People’s Vote campaign splits as youth group breaks away amid row

'For our Future's Sake' group to form separate campaign following fury at intervention by chairman Roland Rudd

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Sunday 17 November 2019 11:54
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The People’s Vote campaign for a fresh Brexit referendum has split after weeks of infighting between its chairman and members of staff.

One of the campaign’s two youth groups, For our Future’s Sake (FFS), has decided to break away and will campaign separately to the other groups under the People’s Vote umbrella.

Some members of the other affiliated youth group, Our Future Our Choice (OFOC), are also understood to have left.

It comes amid an ongoing battle between Roland Rudd, the outgoing chairman of the campaign, and most of the organisation’s staff.

Mr Rudd stepped down as chair of the campaign and one of its constituent organisations, Open Britain, on Friday, but his opponents said he still held significant power over the it.

He sparked fury among staff last month by sacking two senior People’s Vote staff, campaign director James McGrory and director of communications Tom Baldwin, and appointing an ally to run the campaign.

That prompted staff to vote overwhelmingly that they had no confidence in Mr Rudd.

Employees have been unable to access the People’s Vote office in Westminster and say they do not have access to data and other resources.

Attempts to broker a reconciliation are understood to be ongoing, but the two sides were engaged in a bitter war of words on Saturday night.

People’s Vote sources said Mr Rudd had “ripped up” a proposed agreement by making a series of demands, including that Mr McGrory and Mr Baldwin be barred from taking part in campaign meetings and phone calls.

And Alastair Campbell, the former communications director to Tony Blair, told The Independent: "Roland Rudd and his cronies have done more damage to the PV campaign than Johnson and Farage.

"Thankfully there remain some great groups and people with values and principles who can mount good campaigns without his narcissistic and pernicious game-playing to hold them back."

But friends of Mr Rudd insisted that negotiations were ongoing and said he had simply made a counter-offer.

Asked about Mr Campbell's comments, a source close to the PR director, said: “We’re not going to respond and suffice to say they are neither fair nor accurate and we’re not going to get into a spat.”

Announcing FFS's decision to break away, Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, the group's co-founder, said: “It’s really important that we can mobilise young people in the seats that matter in this election. Too much effort has been wasted on competing organisations fighting over who has the best app or tactical voting website.

"We all know where the seats that matter are, we all the know the risk of anti-Brexit votes being divided. We all just want to get on with campaigning once again.

“That’s why it’s vital we do this independently of the games being played over the data and money held by the People’s Vote campaign. Boardroom plots by rich men like Roland Rudd cannot be allowed to jeopardise the future of this country."

She added: "Young people deserve better, and FFS is ready to help them. We will fight this general election on our own terms, without compromising the safety of our staff or the integrity of our principles. And will be all the stronger for it.”

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