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Analysis

Did May block probe into Arron Banks before referendum?

by Hugo Dixon | 02.11.2018

How can the prime minister still worship the “will of the people” as expressed in the 2016 referendum now the self-proclaimed “bad boy of Brexit” is being investigated by UK’s FBI for multiple criminal offences?

And did Theresa May really decline a request in early 2016 by “one of the security services to investigate [Arron] Banks – as the topic was simply too explosive in the run up to the referendum”, as the Daily Mail reports?

She keeps talking about the will of the people as the reason for charging ahead with a Brexit that will damage the country.

And yet the Electoral Commission has now referred Banks to the National Crime Agency (NCA) because it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that: the Leave.EU boss was not the true source of £8 million of money he pumped into the leave campaign; the money came from a company in the Isle of Man which was not allowed to fund the campaign; and Banks concealed the true details of these transactions.

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If it’s also true that May refused to investigate Banks when she was home secretary, she is personally to blame for the fact that it has taken so long for the authorities to probe the issue properly.

The British people believe in fair play. And if the Electoral Commission is right, the referendum was anything but fair.

The evidence it has published is damning. There is also more evidence it hasn’t published because this is now a criminal investigation. And the NCA may unearth further facts – as it has more powers than the Commission and may be able to penetrate the secretive Isle of Man and Gibraltar where the money trail has gone cold.

£8m is not small beer. Given how narrow the referendum result was, it is possible that it could have swung the Brexit vote.

This may not, on its own, be a reason to stop Brexit. But, taken together with all the other new facts that have emerged – and the evidence that people no longer want Brexit – it makes the case for asking the people at the end of the Brexit talks whether they still want to quit the EU all the more compelling.

Banks denied any wrongdoing and said he welcomed the investigation. He said he was “confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues”. He added: “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations. The Electoral Commission has produced no evidence to the contrary.”

Tags: , Categories: UK Politics

6 Responses to “Did May block probe into Arron Banks before referendum?”

  • No doubt there will be many Leave voters who will say, whatever missleading facts Banks may have spread, or regardless if the electoral rules were flouted, it made no difference to how they voted. I respect that view. But we all know there were many who were undecided in the run-up to the vote. It will have been those people who could have been swayed in their judgement which will have effected the outcome of the Referendum.

  • Who else knew about the source of these donations? Did Banks just arrive with a bag full of money and nobody thought to question its provenance? Is the secrecy of these offshore accounts not something the government vowed to deal with and make it more difficult for dishonest behavior and people to flaunt the law? Did these efforts to control offshore tax havens come to a screeching halt because some influential people were about to be exposed as crooks and thieves? Is it not so that Cameron and his family is among them?

  • Banks is flatly denying that any funding for his campaign came from Russia, but we’d still be interested to know why he found it necessary to visit the Russian Embassy 11-12 times before the Referendum. Was it because he was finding it difficult to obtain tickets for the World Cup?