The main movement of Remoaners are trying to persuade Dragon’s Den star and businesswoman Deborah Meaden to become their chair after Lord Adonis dramatically quit before Christmas. The European Movement is also said to be in disarray after its controversial chairman decided to step down suddenly with complaints that he had turned the organisation into “a wing of the Labour Party.”
The European Movement (EM) has confirmed in a statement that Lord Adonis stepped down as chairman on December 14 “to devote more time to writing and other public interest initiatives.”
The EM’s Vice Chair, Molly Scott Cato, will serve as interim chair until a successor is elected.
A senior source told Express.co.uk tht the EM members “are keen for [Dragon’s Den star] Deborah Meaden” to take on the role.
However, she is understood to have rivals including former Guardian chief Will Hutton and YouGov President Peter Kellner.
The Labour peer took over as chairman in a controversial vote in 2021 defeating former Tory MP Dominic Grieve to the post despite sources claiming he was late in handing in his nomination papers.
Subsequently there were complaints that he acted “undemocratically” as chairman and was trying to create a Rejoiner version of Labour’s extremist Momentum supporters.
But his departure comes at a time when Rejoiner supporters have been making a push to undo Brexit.
In the statement following his departure Ms Scott Cato said: “I am disappointed by this news, but I would like to thank Andrew for his enormous contribution to the European Movement as our Chair.
“Under Andrew’s leadership, the European Movement has accelerated our membership growth, reformed our governance and defined a clear strategy to campaign’ Step by Step’ to reverse the calamity of Brexit.
“Andrew has been a passionate and committed voice for Europe his entire life, so I know he will continue contributing to our Movement. I look forward to campaigning alongside him for many years to come.
“We are entering a critical stage in the Battle for the Soul of our Country. What we do now will define the pace of our route back to the EU. Our next Chair must be fully committed to that goal whilst continuing to build our Movement across the country.
“We will shortly begin the task of recruiting a new Chair who, in accordance with our constitution, will be elected by our members.”
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But Brexiteer Tory MPs believe that Lord Adonis is giving up on the fight because he knows he cannot win.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson said: “Lord Adonis ‘ refusal to accept Brexit always led to to think he was like that Japanese soldier wandering around the jungle 30 years after the war had ended. Maybe the penny has finally dropped and his futile campaign will finally be put to bed.”
A member of the EM told Express.co.uk: “Adonis hadn’t been doing much for a long time. He appeared on a Zoom meeting last month looking very rough and not very engaged so it wasn’t a surprise the he resigned.
“The whole thing is a bit of a mess at the moment. disarray is not too strong a word.
“A number of people have resigned because the movement under Adonis had become a wing of the Labour and Green parties.”
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Businesswoman Ms Meaden, who is the favoured candidate to replace Lord Adonis, made her name as one of the dragons on BBC 2’s Dragons den.
She has been an outspoken critic of Brexit and was one of those campaigning for a second referendum.
With the EM dropping out of the headlines at a time when the Government appears to be watering down proposals to maximise the opportunities of Brexit, it is said to be looking for a high profile chair who can put it back in the headlines again.