Brexit: People's Vote staffers 'issued with ultimatum' as campaign descends into acrimony over sacking threat

More than 40 staffers received email saying they must work under a newly-imposed chief executive or leave

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 29 October 2019 22:12

Staff at the People's Vote have been issued with an ultimatum over whether to accept a newly-imposed boss or quit after civil war broke out within the second referendum group.

More than 40 staffers received an email telling them they must work under the new chief executive or leave the organisation, following an outcry an attempt to sack of two senior figures.

The row centres on the decision by chairman Roland Rudd to remove James McGrory, the campaign's director, and its head of communications, Tom Baldwin, who were notified in an email to all staff on Sunday.

But the pair refused to quit and turned up to work regardless, with Mr Baldwin, a former spin doctor for Ed Miliband, insisting on the Today programme that Mr Rudd did not have the power to sack him.

The People's Vote campaign said that staff members passed a no-confidence motion in Mr Rudd by a margin of 40 to three on Tuesday, and also declared no confidence in Patrick Heneghan who was appointed as acting chief executive.

But an internal email to staff on Tuesday night insisted they must accept the new regime.

The email said: “We expect all staff to report into the office tomorrow morning for 10am and be willing to work within the new structure in a professional manner.

“If you are determined to leave the organisation please let us know and we can have a without prejudice discussion with you.”

Staff have now replied, stating that they will not return to the office at Millbank Tower, until their concerns have been addressed.

Kirsty O’Brien, who has worked in a senior role on the campaign for 19 months, said: “This type of bullying of staff is totally unacceptable. As today’s meeting made clear, the vast majority of staff working for the campaign have no confidence in either the chair of Open Britain or the supposed CEO of the People’s Vote campaign.

“All staff desperately want to go back to work in such a crucial week, when we have the opportunity to mobilise the combined might of millions of People’s Vote supporters across the UK in the forthcoming a general election.

"Instead, we find our jobs threatened by a multi-millionaire."

Mr Rudd, the brother of former home secretary Amber Rudd, denied there was a row in an interview on Monday.

He told the Today programme: "I want to make clear, there's no row about the remain side and PV. Everyone knows where we stand on this."

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

He claimed some parts of the campaign were undermining the cause by alienating possible support with attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats.

“We can’t get involved in these kinds of politics,” said Mr Rudd. “We are making a coalition with people from all parties and it’s not for us to write off any one political party or any leadership.”

The People's Vote is an umbrella organisation for several groups campaigning for a fresh EU referendum.

The Independent has worked with People’s Vote on its Final Say campaign, including collaborating on staging three major protests in London.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments