UK expats watch EC Vote Leave investigations with interest

Published:  23 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, UK, Euro, England
As the Brexit negotiations grind on with no apparent results, a potential new scandal linked to the referendum itself is causing strong interest amongst UK expats living in Europe.

Recent allegations over the usage by the Leave campaign of an illegally high amount of publicity funds are now being investigated by Britain’s election watchdog. The British Electoral Commission is scrutinising new information suggesting the Leave campaign exceeded their legal spending limit by channelling publicity funds illegally. According to the Commission, the information provides reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed, with Leave leaders Michael Gove and Boris Johnson now being questioned on allegations of illegal funding.

The investigation has been welcomed by UK and EU-based Remain campaigners as well as by British expats living in Europe. The official Leave campaign was given a legal spending limit of £7 million, but is now being accused of using additional donations from an organisation which may not have been as independent as was claimed. Loans and donations worth over two million pounds were received from Leave supporter Arron Banks, the director and majority shareholder of a company entitled ‘Better for the Country’. An investigation is now underway as to whether the company was the true source of the funds or was acting as an agent for an as yet unknown outside source.

A statement from the Commission detailed a further investigation into the possibility of an individual facilitating a ‘transaction’ with a non-qualifying person, thus breaking referendum rules preventing donors living outside the UK and Gibraltar from contributing to either the Remain or Leave campaigns. The Commission will also assess whether those in the Leave campaign who accepted the donations took the trouble to identify and verify the source of the largest campaign donation in British political history.

Earlier this week, the Independent newspaper revealed another investigation into the Leave campaign’s spending is underway. Again, the Electoral Commission believes an offence may have been committed, with the probe focusing on campaigner Darren Grimes and the pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain as recipients of funds. Both Grimes and the pro-Brexit group received donations from the Leave campaign, and the investigation will centre on Vote Leave’s possible exceeding of its spending limit.
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