UK Politics

Why Vote Leave beat Grassroots Out

Vote Leave badges Image copyright PA

The battle to become the official campaign to quit the EU has finally been settled by the Electoral Commission.

Its decision means Vote Leave gets increased spending limits of £7m during the campaign period, campaign broadcasts and a free mail-out to households.

But why was Vote Leave, not the rival Grassroots Out organisation, chosen?

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Speaking after the announcement, Grassroots Out's Peter Bone joked that his group's distinctive green ties might have swung the decision against them.

In fact, the criteria were rather more technical.

Electoral Commission chief executive Claire Bassett said both had submitted "high quality" applications, which had been analysed "in some detail".

Image caption Conservative MP Peter Bone said Grassroots Out would continue to campaign for a vote to leave the EU

In the end, she said, it came down to which group had the greater "depth of representation" of EU exit campaigners.

The final decision was taken at an Electoral Commission board meeting this morning.

Both organisations - as well as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) - had submitted applications setting out their case.

The commission's scorecard reveals Vote Leave scored 49 to Grassroots Out's 45. It rated higher in the categories of "support for application", "representing other campaigners" and "organisational capacity".

Image copyright Electoral Commission
Image caption The Electoral Commission scored the contest 49 to 45 in favour of Vote Leave

The commission said both groups had demonstrated support from a wide range of organisations - but Vote Leave had "better demonstrated the depth of representation in their support from those campaigning, including at a regional and local level".

It also had "well-developed plans... for how they would support other campaigning organisations", the commission said.

The left-wing TUSC's application was rejected as it "did not demonstrate that it adequately represented other campaigners".

Asked about the possibility of a judicial review bid by the Grassroots Out-supporting Leave.EU campaign, Ms Bassett said the commission's decision had been reached "transparently, openly and robustly" and she was confident it would withstand a challenge.

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