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Brexit group hired migrants as call-centre staff

Leave.EU is accused of 'hypocrisy beyond parody'; meanwhile, two prominent businessmen deny backing rival group Vote Leave

Caudwell says he did not put his name on a Vote Leave support list
(Getty Images)
Political Editor

The two groups vying to become the official voice of the Leave campaign both suffered embarrassment yesterday as one was found to be employing EU migrants to staff its call centre while the other incorrectly claimed two prominent businessmen as supporters.

Leave.EU, which is backed by Ukip, is understood to be employing at least four phone-bank staff from EU countries, including Slovakia, to rally voters across the UK to back Brexit.

The appointments come despite Leave.EU telling voters such low-skilled workers “deprive British citizens of jobs”.

The remain campaign accused Leave.EU of “double standards beyond parody”.

“For Leave.EU to run a campaign based on division and demonisation while employing EU citizens in his call centre is the height of hypocrisy,” said Neil Kinnock, the former Labour leader and leading backer of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.

But Arron Banks, the campaign’s major donor who oversees the call-centre operation, said employing EU migrants was not hypocritical.

“My beef is not with immigration but with controlling immigration,” he said. “It can’t be unlimited. I would argue you bring in the people you need to fulfil the economy.”

The denials are an embarrassment for Vote Leave, which had been quick to seize on errors made by the Remain campaign

In an embarrassment for the other main Brexit group Vote Leave, two prominent businessmen who it claimed were backing them denied signing up.

David Ross, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, said he had “no idea” why his name had been added to a list of Vote Leave supporters

A spokesman said: “Mr Ross has not made any commitment at all. We have no idea where this has come from. Mr Ross will make a decision one way or the other when he gets back from his Easter break in a couple of weeks.”

A spokesman for John Caudwell, the billionaire co-founder of Phones 4u, said he “did not put his name on the list” either, even though he has previously supported the case for Brexit.

“You have to question how this list has been compiled,” a spokesman said.

The denials are an embarrassment for the group, which had been quick to seize on errors when the Remain campaign issued a series of letters signed by public figures last month.

On that occasion Downing Street had to apologise to General Sir Michael Rose, a former SAS commander who led United Nations troops in Bosnia, for adding his name to a letter pledging support for Britain remaining in the EU.