‘Hypocrisy’ allegation after Brexit campaign group switches registration to Ireland to keep EU domain name

Thousands of UK citizens and organisations saw .eu domain names suspended at end of 2020

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 07 January 2021 18:16 GMT

Related video: Nigel Farage toasts transition to Brexit

Brexit campaign group Leave.eu has moved its internet registration to the Republic of Ireland in order to be able to keep its .eu suffix after the UK quit the European Union.

The move sparked waves of criticism on social media, with pro-Remain philosopher AC Grayling branding it: “The looking-glass world of Brexit hypocrisy.”

The group, founded by businessman Arron Banks and backed by Nigel Farage, was a loud voice for Leave in the 2016 referendum campaign, and has remained in operation since then, pushing for the hardest possible Brexit.

It was one of more than 80,000 internet domain names assigned to UK registrants facing suspension by the EU’s EURid registration body at the end of the transition period to Brexit on 31 December.

But before the move to post-Brexit conditions took place, the group’s parent organisation Better for the Country transferred its registered address from the UK to an address in Waterford, Ireland.

Group spokesperson Andy Wigmore confirmed the move, telling The Independent: “Yes we did it and why not? Anyone can do it and thousands of companies have.”

Mr Wigmore said the change of address did not involve the transfer of any staff or economic activity out of the UK to the EU.

EURid issued a warning in October that UK nationals and businesses were set to lose their .eu addresses.

“After the end of the transition period, United Kingdom undertakings or organisations established in the United Kingdom but not in the Union, United Kingdom citizens who are not resident of a Union Member State, and United Kingdom residents who are not Union citizens  will no longer be eligible to hold a .eu domain name,” it said.

The registry told the EURACTIV website that “a few minutes” into the new year, thousands of .eu domains belonging to UK users were downgraded to suspended status, removing functions such as email or basic website services. In addition, no UK-based registrant is now able to obtain a .eu domain.

Loss of the .eu domain name could have hit Leave.eu’s standing in web search rankings, as well as its branding.

“Just one more thing the brainiacs of the Leave campaign didn’t realise,” said Labour MP Neil Coyle. “Says it all – ill-thought through from the start.”

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