Nigel Farage has called for an end to infighting among Brexit campaigners as the group run by the Ukip donor Arron Banks backed down from threats of legal action against Vote Leave.
The Ukip leader extended an olive branch to Vote Leave, the group dominated by senior Tories, which was designated as the official out campaign this week by the Electoral Commission.
Despite having been highly critical of Vote Leave in the past, Farage said he believed it was “now in the right place” and would “do a good job”. Next week he will share a stage with Chris Grayling, one of the leading Conservative cabinet ministers who is part of the official out campaign.
Farage distanced himself from Banks’ threat to launch a judicial review against the Electoral Commission decision, which allows Vote Leave to spend £7m on its campaign.
“I think I have been pretty clear, I’m talking to cabinet ministers, we are going to work together, we are going to move forwards,” he said after a Ukip event in London.
Banks, who is one of Ukip’s biggest donors, ran his own group called Leave.EU, which was supporting the rival out campaign called Grassroots Out.
Following the designation, he blamed an establishment stitch-up for Vote Leave winning the contest and questioned claims in its application. His threat of legal action had the potential to delay the EU referendum vote until October.
However, he backed away from the threat of a legal challenge on Thursday. In a statement, Banks said: “What is clear now is that if we were to pursue a judicial review, according to legal experts, we would win. But this is a time to take a step back from the matter, and after consulting with leading campaigners on this issue, including UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage, we have decided to show the public how this process was stitched up, but not to pursue the judicial review any further.
“It is time to turn our collective guns on the real opponents in this campaign: those who are repeatedly trying to scare the British public into thinking that Britain is too small and insignificant to be an independent nation engaged with the whole world, not just one corner of it. We will be pursuing this campaign with vigour – and we’ll have some fun with it along the way.”
Farage had previously been highly critical of Vote Leave, having thrown his weight behind Leave.EU and Grassroots Out.
It caused tensions within Ukip when leading figures Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans, who is temporarily suspended, backed Vote Leave instead of Grassroots Out.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 14th April 2016 15.35 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010