Official Remain Campaign and Pro-EU Lib Dems Fined Thousands of Pounds for Filing Dodgy Referendum Returns

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Britain’s elections watchdog has imposed big fines on the EU referendum’s official Remain campaign and on the Liberal Democrats, for filing inaccurate and incomplete spending returns.

The Electoral Commission hit the Liberal Democrats with a hefty £18,000 fine for providing inadequate invoices and receipts — or, in some cases, not providing them at all.

“The total sum, which nears the [Electoral] Commission’s maximum individual fine of £20,000, is made up of two fines,” the regulator explained in an official statement.

“The first fine, of £17,000, was imposed for failing to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments with a total value of more than £80,000.

“In some cases no invoices or receipts were provided at all, and in others some were provided which were inadequate, such as credit card statements, or were incomplete.

“The second fine, of £1,000, was issued because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments.”

Open Britain — which served as the officially designated Remain campaign under the name ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ during the referendum — faced a much smaller penalty of £1,250, for reported individual payments in in aggregate and failing to provide three invoices.

Financial impropriety on the part of the official Remain campaign and Britain’s premier pro-EU party — now campaigning openly for an ‘Exit from Brexit’ — come as a major embarrassment to the so-called Remain Resistance.

Casting aspersion on Leave campaign financing has been a major theme for EU loyalists, who hope such allegations will bring the referendum result into question — but their more colourful claims about Russian dark money and Russian bots swinging the vote are looking increasingly paranoid and delusional as investigations proceed.

For example, inquiries after the activities of the supposedly Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency “troll farm” found it spent less than one U.S. dollar on Facebook ads during the EU referendum.

Similarly, state-funded broadcaster RT spent well under £1,000 sponsoring a handful of tweets linking to its legal and legitimate Brexit coverage, and a University of Oxford study found there was “not much Russian activism” ahead of the referendum in general.

It is important to note that EU referendum was not fought on a level playing field in the first place, with Remain campaigners being able to outspend Leave campaigners by several million pounds.

This was due to the allocated spend for the official Remain campaign, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and other groups which declared for the EU adding up to a significantly greater sum than the allocated for the official Leave campaign and the two major parties which declared for Leave, UKIP and the DUP.

Former prime minister David Cameron also splurged an additional £9.3m “taxpayer-funded dodgy dossier” urging the public to vote Remain, which was mailed to every household in the country, advertised on social media, and displayed prominently on Government websites.

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