Until leave’s referendum expenses issues are sorted opponents will be able to cast doubt over Brexit’s legitimacy

March 8th, 2018

The overnight news that the government have refused the Electoral Commission’s desire for the sources of the DUP’s pre 2017 donations to be revealed will only add to speculation that something is amiss. What was the source of the £425k that TMay’s “supply & confidence” partners were given ahead of the referendum?

In the meantime the Electoral Commission have confirmed to me that two previously announced campaign funding investigations continue – one into Leave EU and the other into the officially designated, Vote Leave.

The latter is being probed over whether it overshot the £7m EU referendum spending limit. There are allegations that it channelled funds for a social Brexit media campaign via £625,000 in donations to a student.

This inquiry was set up in November after the EC said it had new information that meant it had “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed” and said it would examine if the BoJo/Gove fronted campaign had filed its returns correctly.

As we get closer to March 296th next year those opposed to Brexit are going to be on the lookout for anything that will make it difficult.

A lot will depend on how the EC presents it reports and my guess is that the anti-Brexiteers will be hoping that this will encourage wavering MPs to rebel or just abstain on key votes.

I’ve no doubt that if the referendum had gone the other way by such a tight margin, a 1.9% swing would have done it, then the Remain campaign would have come under close scrutiny.

In the meantime the “will Brexit happen on March 29th 2019” is the busiest UK political betting market. I should disclose that I have NOT had a bet.

Mike Smithson