EU referendum result legality
As you know, the Electoral Commission has published its report into the financial arrangements of Vote Leave, Veterans for Britain and the founder of BeLeave during the EU referendum. The report found that Vote Leave’s records were inaccurate for 43 items of spending, totalling over £200,000. There were also payments made without an invoice or receipt – as required by electoral law.
Following an assessment of the arrangements between Vote Leave and the pro-Brexit youth group BeLeave, the Commission concluded that Vote Leave had exceeded its £7 million spending limit during the 2016 EU referendum. This was done by channelling over £675,000 – through BeLeave – to the digital marketing firm Aggregate IQ. I understand Vote Leave has subsequently been fined £61,000 and the Leader of BeLeave has been fined £20,000.
The revelations about the Brexit campaign raise serious questions about the functioning of our democracy. At a time when public trust in politicians is at an all-time low and given the close involvement of members of the Cabinet in the Vote Leave campaign, the Government must take all necessary steps to restore public trust and bring decent, honest politics back to the fore.
I believe that sitting and former Government Ministers who worked with Vote Leave during the referendum campaign should now come before the House of Commons and explain their role in this scandal and its cover-up. It must be investigated whether they broke the ministerial code during their time working with Vote Leave.
Of course, it is vitally important that the police investigation is allowed to take its course, including the possibility of criminal charges. Ministers and MPs who worked with Vote Leave must co-operate fully with the police investigation. We cannot allow dishonesty to become an accepted norm in our political system.