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Electoral Commission may face legal challenge over 'Vote Leave' campaign move

The group supported by Tory heavyweights Boris Johnson and Michael Gove has been designated the lead Brexit campaign in the EU referendum amid confusion over a possible legal challenge.

The Electoral Commission - the official elections watchdog - said it had selected the Vote Leave campaign as it had "well-developed plans and structures" to work with other pro-Brexit groups in the run up to the vote on June 23.

Leave.EU - the group founded by wealthy Ukip backer Arron Banks, which was supporting the application by the rival Grassroots Out (GO) campaign - swiftly announced it would seek a judicial review.

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Lead campaigns for EU referendum announced

The lead campaigns for the EU in the referendum have been decided by the Electoral Commission in the run-up to the vote.

Vote Leave is officially the campaign for the those backing Brexit and Britain Stronger In Europe is the lead group for those wishing to vote to remain in the EU.

Vote Leave has support from Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling.

Where there are competing applicants for a particular outcome the law is clear, we must designate the applicant which appears to us to represent those campaigning for that outcome to the greatest extent...

We encourage all campaigners to now focus on engaging voters on the historic decision they will have to take on 23 June.

– Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission

The decision gives Vote Leave permission to spend up to £7 million on the coming contest, compared to just £700,000 for other registered campaign groups, and gives them access to a grant of up to £600,000, free mailshots and guaranteed TV broadcasts.

The cross-party Britain Stronger in Europe group - under its registered title of The In Campaign Ltd - was the only applicant for designation as lead campaign on the Remain side, which it was granted.

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