A group of wealthy Conservative businessmen is preparing to give up to £5m to the Brexit campaign amid an outcry about the government’s pro-EU leaflet to UK households, according to a report.
The Midlands Industrial Council, whose members have given millions to the Tory party, is said to be planning to give the cash to the Grassroots Out movement – one of the two groups competing for designation as the official leave campaign.
The Electoral Commission is set to give its ruling by Thursday about whether to approve Grassroots Out or its rival, Vote Leave.
Vote Leave, which is backed by London mayor Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the justice secretary, is the favourite for the designation that would allow the winning campaign to spend more money.
But David Wall, secretary of the Midlands Industrial Council and a board member of Grassroots Out, told the Telegraph: “I believe that significant sums will now go to Grassroots Movement – the umbrella organisation – or Grassroots Out, either one.”
He said that its members were “incandescent” about the government’s pro-EU leaflet costing £9m.
Asked how much would be donated, Wall said: “I would say there is a potential of £4m or £5m.”
The Midlands Industrial Council is made up of anonymous wealthy industrialists.
The donation would be a big boost to Grassroots Out, which comprises some Tory MPs such as David Davis, Nigel Farage and most Ukip, Labour MPs including Kate Hoey, as well as claiming a million members.
The official campaign will be allowed to spend £7m, while other groups would be able to spend £700,000 each during the short campaign. Because Grassroots Out is an umbrella movement, its members could each spend up to that lower amount.
Arron Banks, the Ukip donor behind Leave.EU, a group backing Grassroots Out, tweeted: “David Wall on the Grassroots Out board - well done ! Strengthens the case for designation for GO!”
A spokesman for Grassroots Out did not reply to a request for comment and Wall could not be reached.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 13th April 2016 00.09 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010