Murnaghan Interview Gerry Gunster, President of Goddard Gunster, advising Leave EU Campaign, 4.10.15

Dermot Murnaghan


DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Now then, with the EU referendum firmly on the horizon a number of groups are vying to lead the charge to leave Europe.  The umbrella campaign Leave EU is one of those backed by the UKIP leader Nigel Farage, so much so that they have bought on a strategy team from the United States.  I spoke to Gerry Gunster from Gunster Goddard down the line from Washington yesterday and I started by asking Mr Gunster if he was confident that they could achieve one unified campaign.

GERRY GUNSTER: I do think that there can be a clear path to victory here.  Clearly there are competing organisations that are trying to align themselves to be the official Leave EU campaign, I am frankly quite impressed with what I’m seeing from Leave EU right now with nearly 180,000 people that have signed up for their organisation, they have got 150,000 people that are on their Facebook, they are doing a great job on social media with 15,000 followers so I think that when the whistle is blown and we are ready to take to the field to begin a campaign, I think that Leave EU is in a wonderful position to begin this campaign.

DM: Okay, even if it is unified you have got to give the voters that clear reason why they should vote to leave the EU.  Is the core message, as in so many ballots, going to pivot around the economy?

GERRY GUNSTER: Well you know, they typically do but let’s just for a second take a step back and think about what a referendum campaign is all about.  Dermot, that is all that I do for a living, I run referendum campaigns, I do not do candidate campaigns, I would certainly love to have a conversation with you about the difference between a candidate campaign and a referendum campaign but let’s talk for a second if we can about a referendum campaign.  Ultimately when voters go into the voting booth and you’ll have to excuse me, the American term isn’t a voting booth, we will go in there and we all basically are human beings and there are a series of things that will go through our heads.  Number one, is this going to be good for my self-interest, my family, my budget, my community, my schools, my children – and this is ultimately what this vote is going to come down to, what is the self-interest for the UK voter to say I am comfortable with leaving this current status quo and leaving the EU and it is really fundamental to who we are as human beings.  What is the self-interest for me to choose to leave the EU?

DM: The personalities involved are hugely important of course, is it also essential that the campaign has a clear figurehead or figureheads giving out that message?

GERRY GUNSTER: Well again, let’s talk about the difference between a candidate that is running for a campaign and a referendum.  Let’s take for example a Hillary Clinton, a Donald Trump or any candidate that is running for an office.  Within 30 to 60 seconds you may be able to make a decision on that person and frankly it might be because you just didn’t like the way that their tie looked or you didn’t like the way that their hair looked that particular day, we don’t know.  With a referendum campaign you are literally voting on words that are on a piece of a paper that have almost, they are just words and so the trick here in running a referendum campaign is how do you take those words and turn them into a personality.  Now in referendum campaigns that means that there are many messengers. I will say that if you are in the Midlands you have a different messenger than you would in the southern part of the state.  I mean Dermot, I have heard your interviews where it is clear that there is a divide in the UK, there are different geographic and demographic breakdowns where every group has to hear from a messenger that they identify with. I do not believe, and I have told the folks at Leave EU and they generally agree with me, this cannot be a campaign run out of Westminster.

DM: There is the possibility is there not of damage to some members of the coalition of the Leave EU campaign, aren’t there some parties that are going to be rather tentative sharing platforms with some of the other parties even though they share the same end?

GERRY GUNSTER: I believe that as we move forward here people are going to have to do their best to put their differences behind.  I have the utmost respect for all the political leaders that were involved in the Scottish referendum, I have the utmost respect for all the folks that are involved in this campaign right now.  Again this is a referendum campaign and the people of the United Kingdom are the ones who are going to vote on this and there can’t be anything more exciting than having the ability to vote on an issue that is going to potentially historically  change the way that the world looks at you and this is ultimately, it is not about the political elites, this is about the people of the United Kingdom.

DM: Do you have a slight problem though in getting the parties together now in that the referendum is not going to be held now and will be held on slightly different terms to those that exist at the moment because there’s going to be a renegotiation with other members of the European Union so therefore there may be some members of the Leave EU campaign at the moment who actually like what they hear from the Prime Minister when he comes back from Brussels?

GERRY GUNSTER: Yes, I mean look this is clearly a very complicated scenario that we’re dealing with and not all the pieces of the puzzle have been put together completely but we are in a marathon, this is not a sprint and right now we are in the very early stages of a race and I will tell you that whether this election is in March or whether this election is going to be next September or any time in between, a lot of these things that are happening right now with the disagreements about who’s going to be doing what and what the negotiations are, frankly aren’t going to matter to the voter because again they have a self-interest and they are going to go into that voting booth and they are going to make a decision on whether or not this is good for me, this is good for my family, this is good for my security and ultimately, as we say in the US, is this good for my pocket book?   Am I going to be able to pay my taxes and pay my bills and not only that but is it going to be better for me?

DM: Gerry Gunster, who is advising the Leave EU campaign.,-president-of-goddard-gunster,-advising-leave-eu-campaign,-41015

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