Hanover gives communications help to Tory campaign for People's Vote
Charles Lewington's agency is working with Remain-supporting Tory MPs such as Anna Soubry.
Hanover Communications has raised eyebrows in the public affairs industry by taking on ‘Conservatives for a People’s Vote’ as a client.
Agency sources confirmed that Hanover is providing administrative support and “communications advice” to the group that was launched last week and is headed up by Conservative MPs Justine Greening and Phillip Lee. Also involved with the campaign for a referendum on the terms of Brexit are Tory MPs Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Sam Gyimah.
"The prime minister spent two and a half years trying to reach an agreement on the UK’s exit from the European Union that will command support and she has failed,” said Lee at last week’s launch. “It is no good trying to tweak this agreement in a few places and trying again. And it’s no good telling the public they can’t have a final say while insisting it is fine for MPs to be asked to vote again and again until the government gets the answer it wants."
But one rival lobbyist said Hanover was unwise to touch the campaign because most senior Tories were strongly opposed to a People's Vote. He said: “It’s strategically disastrous because it alienates the vast majority of the Tory party.”
The rival added that the move was more curious because Hanover is run by a former Conservative party communications chief, Charles Lewington, and widely known as a Tory agency. “They’re dumping on their mates,” he said.
Another senior industry figure with more sympathy for the People's Vote campaign was still was surprised to hear that Hanover was officially providing administrative support and communications advice. “It’s a strange one to put on the books,” they said.
Hanover is not the only agency linked to Conservatives for a People’s Vote as the campaign’s president, Neil Carmichael, is a senior adviser at PLMR. Carmichael is the former Tory MP for Stroud.
Meanwhile the industry figure with the biggest presence in the fight for a second referendum is Finsbury boss Roland Rudd, who is chairman of the People's Vote campaign.