Nigel Farage predicts breakup of EU within ‘ten years’
The pro-Brexit pressure group moved its registration from the UK to Waterford in the Republic of Ireland shortly before the transition period between Britain and the EU expired at 11pm on Christmas Eve. Leave.EU made the move that would see it abide by a rule stating websites addressed ending .eu can only be used by individuals and organisations based in the bloc. But now EURid, the agency which oversees the .eu domain, has placed the website under investigation.
Visitors to the Leave.EU website are currently presented with the familiar error message: “The site can’t be reached.”
EURid’s website confirmed the leave.eu domain name had been registered to the campaign group’s address in Waterford, but that it was “temporarily inactive (ie website and email do not function) and under investigation”.
Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore insisted the website would be back up soon.
He warned: “Our lawyers will be taking action against those – and they know who they are – who have broken those delicious EU laws they love so much.”
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Irish Fine Gael politician Neale Richmond, who has also worked as an advisor in Brussels, had written to Ireland’s communications regulator ComReg demanding an investigation be launched.
He said: “It is utterly ridiculous to think that Leave.EU could brass-plate an address in Waterford to maintain their domain name.
“They wanted to leave the EU, they have, that means they leave their domain too.
“Leave.EU are quite simply not welcome in Ireland, their questionable activities over the past number of years have brought a new level of toxic politics in the UK and beyond.
“I welcome the suspension of this domain.
“I sincerely hope this is the end of this odious website and the related traffic driven to this odious brand. Good riddance.”
But Leave.EU communications director Mr Wigmore dismissed Mr Richmond as a “third-rate EU fanatic”.
He warned: “Any more nonsense from Brussels-lovers like him and we may decide to put the full weight of Leave.EU behind the Irexit campaign.”
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Earlier this month, Guy Verhofstadt had urged the European Commission to investigate after Leave.eu changed address to Ireland in order to retain its .eu domain name.
He tweeted: “Ironic this: Brexit campaign organisation moves to the EU to keep their registration.
“I hope @EURegistry and @EUCommission will closely investigate whether all criteria have been fulfilled!”
Leave.EU had looked set to keep hold of its website despite efforts from the EU to strip UK users of their .eu domains.
More than 80,000 internet domain names assigned to UK registrants were suspended by the bloc’s EURid registry following the end of the Brexit transition period on New Year’s Eve.
But Leave.EU had initially managed to keep hold of its registration by swapping its registration address to the Republic of Ireland.
It had meant the pro-Brexit lobby group would no longer have to drop their renowned online presence after EU rules blocked UK ownership of the .eu domain.
EURid had been flooded with similar requests by website owners who were attempting to reinstate their online presence.
EU domains registered in the UK will remain suspended until March 31, 2021.
Until then, owners had been able to update their details to reregister their websites in an EU member state.
However, the EU will require registrants to provide evidence of citizenship in one of the 27 remaining states and anyone who hasn’t demonstrated their eligibility from April 1 will have their .eu domain names withdrawn.
If no further action is taken by January 2022, the domains will be made available again for general registration.
An EURid statement said earlier this month: “After the end of the transition period: United Kingdom undertakings or organisations established in the United Kingdom but not in the Union, United Kingdom citizens who are not resident of a Union Member State, and United Kingdom residents who are not Union citizens will no longer be eligible to hold a .EU domain name.”
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