The United Kingdom's leading campaign for a new Brexit referendum is in a state of meltdown after its self-appointed head told two prominent staff members that they had been sacked.
Tom Baldwin, the People's Vote campaign's head of communications and James McGrory, campaign director, were told to quit their jobs in an email from senior campaign figure Roland Rudd on Sunday, the Financial Times reported.
Rudd is the chairman of Open Britain, one of the groups that belongs under the People's Vote umbrella.
However, Alaistar Campbell, one of the campaign's most well-known figures, on Sunday said Rudd had "no right" to sack the pair, and accused him of "boardroom politics" which "with few exceptions has done little for the campaign."
Campbell, who rose to prominence was head of communications to ex-prime minister Tony Blair, said Rudd sent the email "without any consultation with the other groups" in a series of tweets.
—Alastair PEOPLE’S VOTE Campbell (@campbellclaret) October 27, 2019
Rudd said that Patrick Heneghan, former executive director at the Labour Party, had been appointed the acting chief executive of the People's Vote campaign.
Rudd told People's Vote staff that he would address them in a meeting at 9am on Monday.
However, he emailed staff shortly after 8:30am, informing them that the meeting had been postponed to Tuesday.
Staff emailed Rudd shortly before 10am on Monday saying they were waiting for him to arrive at the campaign's office as they "can't be expected to get on with our jobs until some fundamental questions have been answered."
Members of staff in the organisation subsequently staged a walkout in protest at Rudd's refusal to address them, sources in the group told Business Insider.
One campaign source told Business Insider that there would be a number of senior resignations if Roland did not let Baldwin and McGrory report to work on Monday morning.
People's Vote in meltdown as a key week for Brexit kicks off
Rudd on Monday morning insisted that "there's no row" in the campaign.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he had a "proper civilised chat" with Baldwin before he was told to leave his post and said "he has an opp for a different type of role" in the organisation.
The fall out within the People's Vote campaign comes after months of disagreement over what the campaign's strategy for forcing a new referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union should be.
Rudd wants to adopt a more explicit Remain position, while figures like Baldwin and McGrory want to focus on winning "soft" Leave voters and members of Parliament who could yet be persuaded to support a new referendum, The Observer reported.
The row also comes in a key week for Brexit and the campaign to put it to a new public vote.
MPs will on Monday vote on whether to hold a general election before Christmas after last week voting against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to force through all Brexit legislation by October 31.
The controversy in the campaign also came just hours before European Council leader Donald Tusk confirmed that Brexit had been delayed until January 31.
A campaign source said staff had "not been told what to do" when news of the Brexit delay broke, and that the office was in a state of confusion after Rudd cancelled the Monday morning meeting.
"The staff have decided we are waiting for Roland and Patrick to come up to the office and answer our questions, as they promised they would do in an email to all staff last night," they told Business Insider.