One of Britain’s wealthiest businessmen worth £540m gives £1million to the Brexit campaign yesterday to help it get back on track.
Car distributor Lord Robert Edmiston sent £850,000 to Vote Leave, which is backed by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, and £150,000 to Grassroots Out whose supporters include Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
The move by Lord Edmiston, who has previously donated £4million to the Tories and was made a life peer in 2010, follows a torrid week for the Leave camp.
Barack Obama’s dire warnings about trade deals with the US went much further than even David Cameron had dared hope. Boris Johnson’s attack on the President’s Kenyan heritage also caused huge embarrassment for the Leave side.
Lord Edmiston said the idea that the economy ‘falls of a cliff the day after Brexit’ was ‘complete nonsense’ as existing treaties will remain in place, with two years to negotiate their replacement.
‘I love Europe but don’t wish to be governed by it,’ he added. ‘I can’t understand surrendering sovereignty … to people who we don’t know and didn’t elect and who we can’t remove or replace.
‘I also don’t wish to be subjected to laws made by others that place business in a straitjacket and do not serve the best interests of our country. Just why is the European court allowed to overrule our own Supreme Court?’
He also feared remaining in the EU would make us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, adding: ‘The free movement of people across Europe… means they are freely able to enter our country and that poses a real current threat…’
Lord Edmiston, who retired from the Lords last year, formed the charity Christian Vision in 1988 and has given more than £180million to good causes.
But Lord Edmiston, founder of car importer IM Group and worth £540million according to the Rich List, said: ‘The idea that the American government would not want to do business with us if we left the EU is absolutely risible. It’s the worst sort of scaremongering.
‘I have been importing and exporting for years and do not anticipate any difficulties if we leave the EU. There might be a bit of disruption but it’s in America’s interests to do a deal with Britain which is the world’s fifth largest economy.’
The 69-year-old peer, a devout Christian, holds the franchises for Subaru and Isuzu. A former finance director at the failed Jensen Motors, he used his £6,000 redundancy pay to set up IM in 1974.
His company trades in Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Baltic states. – (mail online)