Does Theresa May know the outcome of the Electoral Commission’s investigation into possible overspending by Vote Leave during the EU referendum – and is that why MPs are voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill with such undue haste?
That certainly seems likely, as Theresa May’s political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, was National Organiser for Vote Leave during the referendum campaign and will have been given advance notice of the commission’s findings.
The investigation focused on payments made by Vote Leave to clear debts of £625,000 run up by university student Darren Grimes with the digital campaign company AggregateIQ Data.
Grimes – who ran BeLeave – was allowed by electoral law to spend £700,000 in the campaign.
As the official campaign group, Vote Leave could spend £7 million, and if it had commissioned and spent that £625,000 itself it would have breached the spending limits.
Downing Street is drawn into the investigation because Mr Parkinson was accused by former Vote Leave volunteer Shahmir Sanni of directing how BeLeave should spend money – something which would be a breach of electoral law.
We know how seriously Mr Parkinson took the allegation because his response indirectly threatened the lives of Mr Sanni’s family.
Mr Parkinson said he had been in a relationship with Mr Sanni. We are told that this revelation forced Mr Sanni’s family in Pakistan – where homosexuality is illegal – to take measures to protect themselves.
Nobody endangers the lives of people they don’t even know, just to make a legal point. They do it to protect themselves, to hide the facts, or possibly to preserve a victory that was won corruptly.
If the Electoral Commission’s finding casts serious doubt on the result of the referendum, then this may affect the way MPs vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
If Mrs May has reason to believe this because her advisor has had advance notice of the finding, and has hastened the vote as a result, then her decision would have been corrupt.
That is the reason Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson is questioning the haste with which the votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill are being rushed through Parliament.
He said: “Each day the plot thickens about the murky dealings of the various Brexit campaigns.
“Now it seems senior figures at the heart of Number 10 who were involved in Vote Leave could have been informed about the contents of this important Electoral Commission investigation long before anyone else.
“If that’s true Number 10 would have had time to plan and even ensure key Brexit votes like the ones this week could happen before the investigation findings are published. That might explain why the Government were pushing so hard to get the Withdrawal bill through in one day tomorrow.
“You’ve got to question whether that’s appropriate and whether those people under investigation should really still be shaping and taking decisions at the heart of Government.”
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “This is categorically untrue.”
Not exactly full and frank proof of innocence, is it?
In fact, it would be for the Electoral Commission to say whether it had made its findings available to Mr Parkinson in enough time for Tweezer to fix the date of the Commons vote.
If it had, then circumstantial evidence would mitigate against her – and of course we cannot expect any of those involved to tell the truth if it makes them look guilty.
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