I read with interest your piece in Conservative Home yesterday, which set out to be a defence of your friends and colleagues at Vote Leave. One can understand such loyalty. However, it is hard to accept your version of events and attempt to sanitise the recent history of Vote Leave in the way you have. So I
In your piece, one passage in particular stood out and necessitates the record being set straight. You wrote:
"The dispute is, inevitably, a complex mixture of strategic differences (should the campaign be primarily about immigration, or based on a more optimistic presentation of an alternative outside the EU), personal differences (Cummings has history with various of the people involved), party differences (Leave.EU is essentially an outgrowth of UKIP) and disagreements about who should be the leading voices of the Leave campaign."Sorry, but this is delusional nonsense and complete misrepresentation of the facts.
Vote Leave has not at any time, anywhere, given any presentation - optimistic or otherwise - of an alternative outside the EU. They deliberately go so far as calling for a leave vote, but with no declaration that Brexit should inevitably follow. Indeed, I have previously asked you to provide evidence they have, and you broke off from the Twitter exchange.
Vote Leave, in the shape of Cummings, is even now actively working to dismiss the only legal method of withdrawing from the EU (Article 50). Daniel Hannan, a Vote Leave director, constantly speaks of his desire for Associate Membership of the EU, which would keep us firmly in the EU and under the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Matthew Elliott has ignored repeated requests to withdraw his comment that in the event of reform leading to a 'two tier Europe' he and his group would be 'very much in'. Finally, every time any of Vote Leave's leading lights have been asked if they actually want to see complete and permanent withdrawal from the EU, they have refused to answer and broken off discussion.
So let's have some honesty. These are not the actions of a group seeking Brexit. Talk of 'safer choices' and 'better deals' is no substitute for a clear and unambiguous statement that Vote Leave is working for Britain to leave the EU completely and permanently. The reason they refuse to do this is because the intention, as set out by Cummings and by Boris Johnson, is to use a leave vote to press for further talks and concessions after which Cummings' second referendum would be used to reverse the original leave vote.
Vote Leave is a cuckoo in the Leave nest. It is holding back progress by those who genuinely want Brexit. The sooner Vote Leave disintegrates and its band of closet reformers depart the stage, the sooner we can focus on a campaign to convince people we have a better future outside the EU and Britain’s chances of leaving the EU can be significantly increased.