EUROSCEPTICS will have to tailor their message to different regions to win the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, according to the mastermind behind the leading ‘Leave’ campaign group.
Matthew Elliott admitted the early days of the referendum campaign have been too “London-centric” as Vote Leave held an event at York University yesterday.
Mr Elliott, who was born and raised in Leeds, is considered one of the most formidable lobbyists in the country having set up the Taxpayers’ Alliance and co-ordinated the winning ‘No’ campaign in the 2011 referendum on changing the electoral system.
He said: “I think there’s certainly differences when it comes to the issues, particularly because obviously the economies in each region are very different.
“I think it is important that we get the message out there into the country. I think at the moment all of the campaigns have been too London-focussed since the launch.”
Yorkshire is a major beneficiary of European funds designed to help grow the region’s economy but Mr Elliott insisted it should not fear a future outside the EU.
“Our message would be that for every two pounds we put in to the EU we get one pound back so actually were we to leave there is plenty of money there to continue the funding.
“We are not talking about scrapping any sory of funding when it comes to subsidies for farmers or research grants for universities or any other sort of EU funding.
“What we are saying is that ig we vote to leave our net contribution to the EU of £10 billion a year could be better spent on British priorities rather than spent by the EU.”
The case for a ‘Leave’ vote is currently being made by two organisations, Mr Elliott’s Vote Leave and Leave.EU, backed by millionaire businessman Arron Banks and endorsed by the UK Independence Party.
But Mr Elliott insisted the division would not harm the Eurosceptic case.
“We are all putting out our message that Britain would be better off out of the EU in our own way.
“We are appealing very much to the swing voters in the centre using a cross-party message. Leave.EU are appealing to the core vote and Ukip voters.
“All these votes will be important when it comes to the referendum and of course all the votes will end up in the same piles when the count happens.”
Both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns are up and running despite the Prime Minister having only just begun the formal process of renegotiating Britain’s EU membership and no firm date for the referendum having been set.
Mr Elliott said: “I’m sensing actually that people see this as a huge huge issue and they realise how historic this decision is going to be for the country.
“They want the information, they want the facts and they don’t just want facts at a national level they want facts based on different sector, what does it mean for universities, different businesses, the public sector and we’ve got to provide them with that information.”
He continued:”Basically we are trying to build a national political organisation in the space of a couple of months.
“Political parties have been around for years, they have got the infrastructure, we are building it from nothing.
“The great thing is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm out there, a lot of activists and volunteers who want to get involved.”