The defection of Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi from the Leave to Remain has been a big blow to the former campain this morning.
It has also led to senior Tories claiming she was never part of their team anyway. But this isn’t entirely true, we found.
This morning, Sayeeda Warsi said:
“That ‘breaking point’ poster really was, for me, the breaking point to say: ‘I can’t go on supporting this’.
Are we prepared to tell lies, to spread hate and xenophobia just to win a campaign? For me, that’s a step too far.
Political Scrapbook spoke to a source close to the Leave campaign this morning who said Baroness Warsi had been involved right from the start.
In fact, she had started campaigning for Brexit as early as summer last year.
Here’s a picture of Sayeeda Warsi (speaking) at an EU Referendum event alongside Matthew Elliott and Dan Hannan MEP, in August 2015.
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 17, 2015
In the early days the Brexit coalition was known as Business for Britain.
Our source added:
>> Warsi was closely involved in talks with Hannan and Elliott to coordinate a message to ethnic minority Britons.
>> She helped set up a group called ‘Muslims for Britain’ and coordinated with other prominent British Asians such as Tony Lit, Managing Director of Sunrise Radio, Britain’s biggest commerical Asian radio station.
>> Helped put together a letter of British Minority Ethnic (BME) leaders for Brexit.
>> Commissioned a report for a big event in East London (with lots of visible BMEs) last year to be held just before or after Cameron announced his big renegotiation with the EU.
Our source said:
At that time the messaging was to present a vision that was ‘Britain [being] bigger than Europe’.
It was the ‘Hello, world’ view of Brexit that was positive and outward looking.
And yet, Tories this morning have been claiming they didn’t even realise she was with them.
— Bernard Jenkin (@bernardjenkin) June 19, 2016
When I invited Sayeeda Warsi to join the Leave campaign, she declined. Fair enough, obviously. But how is this a "defection"?
— Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) June 19, 2016
In fact, at the start of the year, Warsi increasingly started getting worried about the tone of the campaign.
Dominic Cummings came along, and kept talking about [the] Cologne [attacks by some migrants on NYE]
She became more vocal in raising concerns about the direction of the messaging.
It started to look like [the campaign was] slamming BME communities.
Sayeeda said ‘you have to pull this back’
But instead the Vote Leave campaign (and others) just kept hammering on immigration and scare-mongering about refugees.
So, last night she defected to the Remain camp.
It’s highly disingenuous of some Tories to pretend she was never part of the campaign for Brexit.