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Former Government minister Sir Alan Duncan decided to join the “In” campaign after he failed in an attempt to join the board of one of the leading Brexit organisations, it has been claimed. Sir Alan emerged as a surprise pro-European Union campaigner...

Sir Alan Duncan 'tried to join board of Leave organisation weeks before saying he will campaign to stay In'

Former Government minister Sir Alan Duncan decided to join the “In” campaign after he failed in an attempt to join the board of one of the leading Brexit organisations, it has been claimed. Sir Alan emerged as a surprise pro-European Union campaigner...

Sir Alan Duncan 'tried to join board of Leave organisation weeks before saying he will campaign to stay In'

Former Government minister Sir Alan Duncan decided to join the “In” campaign after he failed in an attempt to join the board of one of the leading Brexit organisations, it has been claimed.

Sir Alan emerged as a surprise pro-European Union campaigner in an article in the Telegraph on Thursday, accusing pro-Brexit colleagues of offering a "fanciful pretence" of Britain's future outside the EU.

However Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, claimed that Sir Alan earlier this year had asked to join Vote Leave’s board.

.tg-pullquote__global__group { zoom: 1; } .tg-pullquote__global__group:before, .tg-pullquote__global__group:after { content: ""; display: table; } .tg-pullquote__global__group:after { clear: both; } .tg-pullquote__inline { float: left; } .tmg-particle.pull-quote{ margin: 0 20px 10px 0px; width: 260px; float: left; } @media (max-width: 495px) { .tmg-particle.pull-quote{ float: none; margin-left: 4.687%; margin-right: 4.687%; width: 90.626%; } } .tg-pullquote_container{ font-size: 18px; line-height: 23px; font-family: georgia; } .tg-pullquote__title { font-family: arial; font-weight: bold; font-size: 16px; border-top: 1px dotted #000000; } .tg-pullquote__quote { color: #007A8F; font-style: italic; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; } .tg-pullquote__attribution { color: #787878; margin-bottom: 5px; } .tg-pullquote__source {}.tg-pullquote__source__link { color: #234B7B; outline: 0; text-decoration: none; } .tg-pullquote__source__link:hover { border-bottom: 1px dotted #122842; color: #122842; } “Surprised @AlanDuncanMP supports Remain. He came to the @vote_leave HQ the other week asking for a Board position” Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, on Twitter

He wrote on Twitter, the social media website: “Surprised @AlanDuncanMP supports Remain. He came to the @vote_leave HQ the other week asking for a Board position.”

Vote Leave sources said that Mr Duncan had even drafted an "out speech", while officials were looking at ideas for an event to suit the former prisons minister's profile where he could commit to leave/

One source said: "He told us he had drafted his out speech."

Sir Alan told The Daily Telegraph: "My article said it all - that is all I need to say."

But friends of Sir Alan confirmed that he had visited the London head office of the Vote Leave campaign on January 15 but denied that he had ever asked for a seat on the board.

The friend said: "He never said he was definitely for out - he was weighing everything up. He could not ask for a place on the board because there was not a board.

"He concluded that there were a complete shambles and he said 'without a board you will not have a campaign'.

"This is just Matthew Elliott being Matthew Elliott - that is one of the major problems with Vote Leave."

A Vote Leave source said that it stood by Mr Elliott's claim, despite the denial from sources close to Sir Alan.

.tg-pullquote__global__group { zoom: 1; } .tg-pullquote__global__group:before, .tg-pullquote__global__group:after { content: ""; display: table; } .tg-pullquote__global__group:after { clear: both; } .tg-pullquote__inline { float: left; } .tmg-particle.pull-quote{ margin: 0 20px 10px 0px; width: 260px; float: left; } @media (max-width: 495px) { .tmg-particle.pull-quote{ float: none; margin-left: 4.687%; margin-right: 4.687%; width: 90.626%; } } .tg-pullquote_container{ font-size: 18px; line-height: 23px; font-family: georgia; } .tg-pullquote__title { font-family: arial; font-weight: bold; font-size: 16px; border-top: 1px dotted #000000; } .tg-pullquote__quote { color: #007A8F; font-style: italic; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; } .tg-pullquote__attribution { color: #787878; margin-bottom: 5px; } .tg-pullquote__source {}.tg-pullquote__source__link { color: #234B7B; outline: 0; text-decoration: none; } .tg-pullquote__source__link:hover { border-bottom: 1px dotted #122842; color: #122842; } "He never said he was definitely for out - he was weighing everything up. He could not ask for a place on the board because there was not a board. He concluded that there were a complete shambles and he said 'without a board you will not have a campaign'. This is just Matthew Elliott being Matthew Elliott - that is one of the major problems with Vote Leave" Friend of Sir Alan Duncan's

Sir Alan's surprise decision means that 166 of the 330 Conservative MPs have declared their support for remaining in the EU. Another 130 are intending to vote against, with 34 yet to make their position known.

The former international development minister said he had "spent 40 years wishing we had never joined the EU" since voting against membership in the last referendum in 1975.

"Nobody in the UK likes being told what to do by others," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"The wish to restore the power to govern ourselves is a perfectly respectable argument, and the rise of Ukip and the undimmable forces within the Conservative Party who want to leave are testament to the enduring irritation many feel."

He said the question of immigration was "far more complicated than many have admitted", adding: "Some, it would seem, are wholly against Polish workers in the UK, unless they are having their own taps fixed."

But the "most compelling arguments are political", he concluded.

Britons vote on whether to remain in the EU on June 23.

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