Groups and individuals intending to apply for designation as the lead campaign for either outcome in the EU Referendum had until March 31 to submit applications to the Electoral Commission. One lead campaign can represent each side of the referendum debate, acting as the lead group on behalf of those campaigning for that outcome.
Bob Posner, Director of Party and Electoral Finance & Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission said:
"We will be running a fair, open and transparent process for designating lead campaigners. It is important that any campaigner applying for designation carefully reads our guidance before submitting their final application as we will be basing our decision purely on the evidence provided within it."
There are several groups on either side of the campaign. 'Britain Stronger in Europe' is the main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, headed by former Marks and Spencer chairman Lord Rose. Its campaign is backed by the Confederation of British Industry, whose Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has warned that leaving the EU would cause a serious shock to the UK economy, with a potential cost to UK GDP of US$144 billion and 950,000 jobs by 2020 and negative echoes that could last many years after that.
Why we're stronger IN
All over the country, thousands of people like you are talking about the reasons why we’re stronger and better off in Europe. From jobs and businesses to security and lower prices in the shops, here’s what just a few of you had to say.Posted by Britain Stronger in Europe on Friday, March 25, 2016
Sovereignty at Stake
Funded by UKIP donor Arron Banks and other business people, it has the backing of longstanding Euroskeptic groups, some Conservative MPs and UKIP, plus others such as the former Respect MP George Galloway. It has the backing of former Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who said: "If you cannot make your own laws, if you cannot control your own borders, you are not an independent, sovereign nation and I want to live in an independent sovereign nation."
'Vote Leave' is backed by senior Conservative lawmakers including the London mayor, Boris Johnson, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, ex-Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work & Pensions Secretary.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron — who was forced to call the In-Out referendum because of rising Euroskepticism and deep anti-EU sentiment within his own party — has attempted to make the case for remaining within a "reformed" EU. At a crucial European Council summit in February, he won a number of concessions over British membership.
These includes an agreement that Britain would not pursue 'ever closer union', that non-Eurozone states would not be discriminated against and that in-work benefits for EU migrant workers could be withheld for up to four years, to prevent benefit tourism.
The Electoral Commission will decide which of the campaign groups will be given lead status to head-up the campaigns and will announce its decision by April 14.