Last month we blogged on the EU referendum timetable. On Wednesday 13 April (one day earlier than expected), the Electoral Commission published its decision on the designation of the official campaign organisations. These are to be ‘Vote Leave’ for the ‘Leave’ campaign, and ‘The In Campaign Ltd’ (otherwise known as Britain Stronger In Europe) for ‘Remain’. The importance of the designation is that the official campaign organisations have expenditure limits of £7 million, plus public funding of £600,000. Other registered participants have a spending limit of £700,000, although political parties can spend up to £7 million dependent on their share of the vote at the last general election.
While ‘Britain Stronger In Europe’ was the only organisation to apply for designation on the ‘Remain’ side, there has been a well-publicised rivalry over the designation for ‘Leave’. Three campaign groups ultimately applied for designation as the official ‘Leave’ campaign organisation – Vote Leave, the GO Movement and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. You can find the Electoral Commission’s assessment scores for each ‘Leave’ campaign group here.
The GO Movement is formed of a number of different components, amongst them the ‘Leave.eu’ campaign, which is led by Aaron Banks. Last week, Mr Banks indicated that ‘Leave.eu’ was considering raising proceedings for judicial review against the Commission’s decision, with the potential for delaying the referendum. However, it does now look like proceedings for judicial review will not be raised.
With lead campaign groups designated, the official campaign period began on 15 April. The majority of regulatory controls on the referendum process, most importantly campaign expenditure limits, applied from that date.
In our last blog we noted that the campaign period for the EU referendum overlapped for those in respect of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolved elections. The Electoral Commission has now issued guidance on splitting campaign expenditure between different campaign periods, which can be found here.