HELEN FIELD reveals that despite calling for a ‘people’s vote’, the corporate elite backing the leading anti-Brexit campaign are about as far away from ‘the people’ as you can get
Information from Companies House reveals a rich elite that includes Tory, Lib Dem and right-wing Labour politicians, company directors, and chairmen of global corporations, are giving huge support to the so-called People’s Vote campaign to hold a second EU referendum in the hope of stopping Brexit.
The People’s Vote website has at the bottom of each page its registered address: Open Britain, 21-24 Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QR.
Open Britain Ltd started life in June 2015 as the Interim Campaign (company number 9641190) registered under the sole name of Laura Jane Sandys, a Conservative Party politician who served as the Member of Parliament for South Thanet between 2010 and 2015.
Weeks later, on July 23 2015, the Interim Campaign changed its company name to The In Campaign Ltd. During the referendum campaign of 2016, the Electoral Services Commission designated The In Campaign as the lead group for the 63 different groups and individuals registered to support Remain. (Leave had 60).
The In Campaign Ltd went through a further name change and rebranding on September 6 2016 to become Open Britain Ltd (company number 9641190).
Nowhere on the Open Britain website does it mention its directors, and it is soon clear why. You have go to Companies House to find the full list of these grey-suited representatives of the corporate elite shilling as the voice of “the people.”
Take Sir Michael Derek Vaughan Rake. He is chair of Phoenix Global Resources Ltd. This company is currently fracking on a huge basis in Argentina. Its 2017 accounts, downloaded from Companies House, reveals the following on page 6: “Vaca Muerta is a world-class unconventional resource play with current production in excess of 90,000 boepd (barrels equivalent per day) and a production expectation of more than 110,000 boepd in 2018, double 2016 production. Unconventional oil and gas has the potential to transform the future of Argentina’s economy.”
Worried? You should be. The Centre for Environmental International Law had this to say about the project:
“A report presented to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) highlights the adverse economic, social, and cultural rights impacts of fossil fuel extraction at the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Argentina on local residents and indigenous Mapuche communities. It also highlights the project’s massive contributions to climate change. If the Argentinian government’s plans for large-scale exploitation of the Vaca Muerta shale formation come to fruition, the country will significantly increase its greenhouse gas emissions and undermine the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Sir Michael Rake, president of the CBI till 2015, has other companies registered at Companies House – NewDay Ltd (credit cards) and MDVR Services.
Of the other 10 directors of Open Britain we have:
Roland Dacre Rudd — brother of Amber Rudd MP. He is also chair and founder of The Finsbury Group, a multimillion-pound financial consultancy company. Its Annual Report and Financial statements for 2017 make illuminating reading. It records a gross profit for 2017 as £29,570,476 (page 9), corporation tax paid £514,045. A dividend payment of £10 million was approved and paid by the board for the year 2017 (page 3). Brexit is listed as one of six key business risks facing the company (page 2).
Roland also guarantees the leasing costs for Open Britain’s swanky offices in Millbank Tower. On March 5 2018 a 14-month lease was taken out for office space, costing £86,400. Remember this is also the office from which the People’s Vote website is run.
Richard Reed — multimillionaire co-founder of Innocent drinks (sold to Kraft reputedly for £300 million) and JamJar Investments.
James McGrory who spent his time from 2010 until 2015 working hard in the Con-Dem coalition government as adviser to Nick Clegg (recently employed by Facebook).
The remaining six are Lord Peter Mandelson, June Sarpong, Will Straw — son of Jack, Joseph Peter, Carberry Daniel, Vereker Gieve and Trevor Phillips.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that these people’s main concern would be stopping a socialist government.
Leaving the EU will undoubtedly make it easier for a Corbyn-led Labour government to implement its brilliant policies from the 2017 election manifesto. These include not only redistribution of wealth from the few to the many, but also environmental policies, especially sustainable energy, public transport and insulation of homes. With less than 12 years to combat climate chaos our only hope is to have a general election and elect a Labour government.
A “people’s vote” will jeopardise this. It is more likely to disengage millions (“what’s the point in voting? They’ll only change it later”), and empower the extreme right wing. The only winners would likely be the Tories, picking up the disenfranchised voters of a wrecked Labour Party, and then we’ll probably never get rid of them. But maybe this is really what the organisers of the people’s vote want.
Helen Field is part of Southampton People’s Assembly.