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UKIP Politician Organises Sainsbury's Boycott But Is Completely Wrong

Steven Woolfe launched the #ShameOnYouSainsburys and urged supporters to bombard the supermarket with calls protesting at their supposed pro-EU funding. Spoiler: The supermarket isn't providing pro-EU funding.

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Yesterday UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe launched the #ShameOnYouSainsburys campaign to protest against the company's decision to fund the pro-EU campaign in the forthcoming referendum.

.@sainsburys will financially support the YES Campaign without consent of shareholders in EURef #ShameOnYouSainsburys

The meme-esque call to arms urged Woolfe's followers to spread the word that the supermarket giant had – that very day – announced it would fund the Yes campaign for Britain to stay in the EU when a referendum is held on the subject in the next couple of years.

"Retweet and share using #ShameOnYouSainsburys," urged the MEP, one of UKIP's rising stars.

Many of his followers were disgusted by the revelation.

@Steven_Woolfe @sainsburys Well I won't be shopping at Sainsbury's any more that's for sure!

.@Steven_Woolfe @sainsburys Just like EU, they have no regard for democracy, views of sharehoders or electorate #ShameOnYouSainsburys

Boycotts were on the way.

@Steven_Woolfe @sainsburys I will boycott Sainsbury's from now on and so will all my family and friends + 4,000,000 ukippers.

Taste the Difference sausages were at risk of being abandoned on the shelves.

The EU is undemocratic, Sainsburys will NOT support the EU with MY MONEY. Boycott Sainsburys. #ShameOnYouSainsburys https://t.co/eqDlkuuFQF

This could hit Sainsbury's hard, since pre-election market research suggested the supermarket's shoppers are those most likely to vote UKIP.

Angry UKIP members started to ring up Sainsbury's and complain to its helpline.

I have just rung Sainsburys to object that they are supporting our continued membership of EU #ShameOnYouSainsburys https://t.co/0NVIHravo8

@Steven_Woolfe @sainsburys Just call them on their freephone number above to let them know they have lost another customer.

From a member who phoned @sainsburys "emergency meetings set up" message getting thru. @Steven_Woolfe #ShameOnYouSainsburys keep it up

(Sainsbury's confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the supermarket had received calls from UKIP members.)

Some speculated that Sainsbury's wanted to boost the UK's population with EU immigrants so it could sell more food.

@Steven_Woolfe EU membership means open-door immigration, which means more mouths to feed, which means more business for @sainsburys.

The only problem for UKIP is that Sainsbury's isn't funding the anti-EU campaign. It seems the confusion came from a recent article in The Times about Lord Sainsbury.

The Times

Labour-supporting Lord (David) Sainsbury is the person who's actually being lined up to provide the cash for the pro-EU campaign. He's a very wealthy Labour supporter whose money comes from his family's stake in the supermarket firm but currently has no active involvement in the business.

Other members of the Sainsbury's family – who, again, have no active involvement in the business other than spending the money they made from it – include Lord (John) Sainsbury, who supports the Conservatives.

Basically, there are a lot of wealthy people called Sainsbury, and you can't affect their politics by changing where you buy your carrots.

A Sainsbury's spokesperson told BuzzFeed News:

"It is categorically not true that we're supporting the campaign. We are an apolitical organisation.

"It is our policy not to donate to any political parties or political campaigns. We did not announce that we would donate to the Yes campaign, and this is not something we will be doing now or in the future."

Still, Woolfe successfully spun this response into a victory.

.@sainsburys Public Affairs team just rang my office to say they WILL NOT fund the #EURef 'YES' campaign. Hope other companies follow suit..

UPDATE: The protest has now spread to Sainsbury's Facebook page, with almost every post about recipes now featuring a number of angry replies from UKIP supporters. Here are a selection.

Facebook
Facebook

It's going to be a long campaign.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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