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Vote Leave Named As Official Brexit Campaign Group

The Tory-backed organisation won the battle over UKIP-backed Grassroots Out, the Electoral Commission announced. Britain Stronger in Europe will lead the Remain campaign.

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Vote Leave has been declared the official organisation that will campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, following months of sniping with a UKIP-backed rival group.

The Electoral Commission announced its decision on Wednesday afternoon – just over two months before the UK votes on whether to leave the EU.

Although the designation decision may seem obscure, it could have a substantial impact on how the referendum is fought: The winning anti-EU group can now spend up to £7 million campaigning, will be given £600,000 by the government, and will have access to broadcast slots for TV and radio campaigns. They will also be able to send one leaflet to all homes in the UK.

Vote Leave, which was the narrow winner, was perceived to be the campaign of the Eurosceptic establishment. It is backed by leading Conservative cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, as well as some Labour MPs.

Its upstart rival, Grassroots Out, was backed by Nigel Farage and was largely funded by Arron Banks, UKIP's biggest donor. It attempted to win the nomination by recruiting thousands of canvassers and proving its popularity through outreach events – with one supporting group organising an anti-EU music festival.

While Vote Leave insist they want to make a more positive case for leaving the EU, Grassroots Out had suggested they would focus almost entirely on the issue of immigration.

After the decision was announced, Banks said he was seeking legal advice on a possible judicial review and claimed that this could push the referendum back to October.

Farage, however, struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that Vote Leave shared his view of the importance of the immigration issue.

He said in a statement: "Regardless of whichever campaign got the designation, UKIP would always have played a big role in this campaign as the only national party committed to leaving the EU and with a substantial £4 million spending limit."

A rival left-wing bid to run the anti-EU campaign by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was rejected.

Britain Stronger in Europe, the only applicant for the pro-EU campaign, was designated the official Remain group.

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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