Arron Banks, block, Conservative, EU, european union, FOI, freedom, Home Office, information, investigation, Leave.EU, Mike Sivier, OpenDemocracy, referendum, request, Theresa May, Tories, Tory, Vox Political
The Tories are tying themselves in knots over Brexit.
Theresa May is currently set to return to the EU over the weekend in a desperate bid to save a withdrawal agreement that stands in tatters after the DUP savaged its plan for the Northern Ireland border and Spain attacked it over Gibraltar. MPs queued up to voice their opposition to it during a Parliamentary debate demonstrating that the government cannot get the amount of support it needs.
And now it seems Mrs May blocked an investigation into electoral crimes by Leave.EU, one of the main campaign organisations that persuaded the public to support Brexit – and is covering up the reasons for it.
Investigative website openDemocracy submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office, seeking clarification on reports that Mrs May blocked an investigation into Brexit bankroller Arron Banks in the run-up to the 2016 referendum after the Home Office refused to reveal information about the controversial Leave.EU and UKIP donor.
Mr Banks donated £8.4 million to Leave campaigns – the single biggest donation in British political history. But he is facing a criminal investigation over concerns that he was not the “true source” of the money. Questions have also been raised about his links to Russia but he denies any wrongdoing. The National Crime Agency is said to be investigating.
But the Home Office refused to either confirm or deny whether it holds any material from 2016 about Leave.EU and Banks. The department said that doing so “would impede the future formulation of government policy”.
openDemocracy‘s article suggests that the Home Office’s response is an attempt to hide behind the form of language usually used to avoid commenting on intelligence matters – which is inappropriate in this instance.
The suggestion is that the government is trying to protect Mrs May by hiding whatever she did, back in 2016. But by saying it “would impede the future formulation of government policy”, officials have only drawn attention to a matter that has nothing to do with that subject.
The longer Mrs May and her cronies try to hide her involvement in this scandal, the worse it will be for her.
Meanwhile, the official pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, has lost a judicial review aimed at trying to get an Electoral Commission ruling that it breached spending limits thrown out.
The organisation had tried to challenge a ruling that it had exceeded the £7 million limit by channelling funds through another campaign group BeLeave. But the High Court has thrown out its case.
So not only is Mrs May accused of blocking an investigation into one of the major players in the Brexit vote; but she is also desperately defending the result of that vote, even though it may be illegitimate.
And in any case, it seems her plan for Brexit is ruined.
Why is she persisting with this charade? Are worse revelations yet to be revealed?
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