Grassroots or ‘astroturf’? Who’s really behind the anti-Brexit group ‘Our Future Our Choice’
Our Future Our Choice (OFOC) pertain to be the grassroots voice for young people and their objective is to help secure a ‘people's vote’ on the final terms of the Brexit deal. However, questions are being asked by prominent left winger commentators such as Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani and journalist and author Paul Mason as to who exactly is driving their campaign.
. @OFOCBrexit is pure astroturf. They share an office with organisations funded and backed by big business and former donors to the Lib Dems and the Tories.— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) June 18, 2018
They are not progressives. Meanwhile the 70% who want a soft brexit are represented only by @jeremycorbyn & @Keir_Starmerpic.twitter.com/nlfMMcJf21
A bunch of privileged, astroturfing Tories using millionaire money to troll the British people. https://t.co/IqeSvTt7DJ— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) June 18, 2018
In addition, some political commentators on the left are questioning why OFOC seem to be focussing on attacking the Labour leadership instead of Tory remainers that have failed to ‘rebel’ thus far on key Brexit votes.
McDonnell & Abbott voted for parliament to have a meaningful say on the final Brexit deal. Greening promised @OFOCBrexit she would too, but then voted against.— Michael Walker (@michaeljswalker) June 19, 2018
So @Femi_Sorry, I'm genuinely interested, why was it McDonnell and Abbott, not Greening, that were targeted yesterday? pic.twitter.com/KZw3me6yoJ
The four founding members of OFOC, co-presidents Lara Spirit and Will Dry, and the group’s spokesmen Femi Oluwole and Calum Millbank-Murphy, are all registered as directors in the company. Their group made the headlines by promoting a couple of mobile billboards attacking high level Labour figures such as John McDonnell and Diane Abbott for their stance on Brexit.
Problems with this poster (going round John McDonnell’s seat today): 1) Nobody normal has any idea who Jacob Rees-Mogg is. 2) Nobody wants a people’s vote, and particularly not the Leave voters who make up 60 percnet of McDonnell’s seat. pic.twitter.com/losHKUK9ub— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) June 18, 2018
OFOC is one of a plethora of pro-remain groups that have been set up during or after the EU Referendum in 2016. The group registered the organisation to companies house in February this year and soon after raised £12,762 through crowdfunding in March.
The group’s homepage admits that “OFOC is powered by: Best for Britain, Open Britain, The European Movement, and the GCG [Grassroots Co-ordination Group]”, all large established pro-Remain groups, predominantly funded by Tory, Liberal and former Labour donors. The GCG is chaired by Chuka Umunna MP, a known Corbyn-critic.
They share office space with six anti-Brexit groups; Best for Britain, Open Britain, European Movement, Britain for Europe, Scientists for EU, Healthier IN and InFacts that have been brought together by Umunna’s GCG.
Best For Britain (BfB), a campaign launched by Gina Miller last year, is the best funded organisation with a staggering £2.4m ($3.1m) in funding, £500k ($660k) of which coming from billionaire philanthropist George Soros, according to the Guardian. They are looking for a further £3.2m ($4.2m) according to Paul Butters, BfB’s director of communications and former spokesperson to Ex- Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron.
According to Red Robin, the Scottish left wing blog BfB spent £353,118 ($465k) between June 2016 and June 2017, backed several candidates against Labour candidates in the 2017 General Election, including the Liberal Democrat’s Tom Brake and Ed Davey.
Although BfB claims much of its funding comes from small donors, significant sums have been given to the group by Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson (£25k, $33k), Liberal Democrat Anatole Kaletsky (£20k, $26k), and Tory donor Stephen Peel who told the Observer he was giving the anti-Brexit group £100k ($131k) because it was “the most important political issue of a generation and one about which I deeply care”.
The European Movement meanwhile is predominantly funded by former Progress donor, Lord David Sainsbury, who has recently stated he would not be funding political groups anymore, to turn his attentions charitable causes.
RT has reached out for comment from OFOC as to what their connections are to the larger, well funded groups - does “powered by” simply mean supported or financially backed? Certain administrative support would have to be declared to the electoral commission in the event of another referendum. At the time of writing OFOC had not responded to our email.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!