ENGLAND (TIP): Three of the biggest political donors in Britain are to bankroll the campaign to pull the country out of the European Union, it will be announced.
Peter Cruddas, who has given the Tories over £1.2 million will join Labour’s largest individual donor John Mills and Stuart Wheeler who bankrolled Ukip as joint treasurers of the cross party ‘leave’ campaign.
Together the three have a net wealth of over £1 billion and have donated around £3 million to political causes.
The campaign is also being backed by the mobile phone billionaire John Caudwell who founded Phones 4u and who helped bankroll the ‘No to AV’ campaign.
Other rich backers who will be announced on 9 October include the banker Alexander Hoare whose family is worth over £300 million and the Christopher Foyle the Chairman of Foyles bookshops.
Sources in the campaign said they expected to raise at least £13 million in the run-up to the official referendum campaign when donations become regulated by the Electoral Commission. This is on top of the £7 million that the campaign will be allowed to spend during the official campaign period.
Under Electoral Commission rules the ‘leave’ campaign will not have to declare any donations they receive before the referendum bill is passed into law -allowing the campaign to amass a secret war chest of undeclared funding.
The launch of the ‘leave’ campaign on 9 October comes amid growing nervousness among prominent pro-EU campaigners that they are facing an uphill struggle to persuade undecided voters to back Britain’s continued membership of the EU.
A poll last month found that the ‘remain’ campaign has just a 3% lead while another recent study found undecided voters were much more attracted to the messages of the ‘leave’ campaign.
A new poll by ICM for the ‘leave’ campaign released on 9 October found 54 per cent of the public are either in favour of leaving or dislike the EU but might vote to stay because they are worried about living standards.
To address this the ‘leave’ camp intend to concentrate their efforts on highlighting the £350 million a week they say the UK save by not contributing to the EU and the economic potential for the country of being free of European regulations.