BREXIT CAMPAIGN group Leave.eu has marked the UK’s exit from the European Union…by re-joining the European Union.
The lobby group, which played a key role in supporting the Leave vote during the 2016 referendum, has moved its internet registration over to the Republic of Ireland.
Under the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU, domain names ending in “.EU” can only be held by businesses or individuals located within the Union or wider European Economic Area.
Founded by businessman and Brexit activist Arron Banks and backed by Nigel Farage, Leave.EU was one of 80,000 UK-based domain names assigned to UK registrants that were facing suspension on December 31.
However, Leave.EU has now avoided any potential interruption after the website was registered in the name of Waterford-based businessman Sean Power.
Power is the chief executive of the Ireland-based professional services company BSG.
The decision has sparked criticism on social media with pro-Remain philosopher AC Grayling describing it as: “The looking-glass world of Brexit hypocrisy.”
But Andy Wigmore, a spokesperson for the Brexit group, expressed surprise to The Independent that anyone would question such a move.
He said: “Yes we did it and why not? Anyone can do it and thousands of companies have.”
Wigmore’s response stands in stark contrast with the remarks he previously made about the prospect of losing the .EU domain.
“If we leave with no deal our job is done,” he told The Guardian in 2019.
“No need for Leave.EU any more. Cheers all round, I’m sure!”
Despite this, the lobby group has now taken full advantage of a change in the rules, introduced in July, that allow UK-based owners of .EU domains to stay online as long as they are transferred to an EU citizen – like Power.
Website owners with suspended domain names can take advantage of the change until March 31.
Fine Gael’s spokesman on European Affairs Neale Richmond the decision to relocate Leave.eu to Ireland was not a welcome one given the group”s “reprehensible record.”
“Leave.eu is an odious campaign group that’s spread fear and disinformation throughout the Brexit referendum and subsequent negotiation process,” he told Irish Times.