Tory Campaigning Boss Out Mid-Election Over Election Betting Probe

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the launch of the Conservative campaign bus at Redcar Raceco
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The UK’s governing Conservative Party, in a piece of spectacularly bad timing, has lost its director of campaigning mid-election campaign as a probe into alleged political betting by insiders widens.

Conservative campaigns director Tony Lee has taken what is described as a “emergency leave of absence” with just two weeks to go until the general election after his wife, a candidate in the vote, was named in a probe into improper political betting. Betting on politics is not illegal in the United Kingdom, but using confidential information to cheat is.

It is reported the Gambling Commission, the UK’s gambling regulator, is investigating a rash of bets on the date of the UK general election which were allegedly made by political insiders shortly before the election was called. The BBC reports the Commission as having said: “Currently the Commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election. This is an ongoing investigation, and the Commission cannot provide any further details at this time.

“We are not confirming or denying the identity of any individuals involved in this investigation.”

Brexit leader Nigel Farage shared betting industry data on Thursday afternoon showing a surge of betting on the general election the day before it was made public, and opined: “The corrupt Tories are now fully exposed by this betting data. Reform must replace them.”

Tony Lee’s exact involvement or otherwise in the scope of the Commission probe has not been revealed but it had been earlier claimed that his wife Laura Saunders, who is a Conservative candidate running for election, had allegedly place a bet.

These developments follow another earlier this week where a VIP protection police officer who may have been in a position to overhear ministerial discussions was arrested after placing “several” political bets.

The Conservative Party has aggressively centralised in recent years, running down local associations to concentrate more power with the London Conservative Central Office. To what degree losing a campaigns director just two weeks before election day will impact their performance, and if there is sufficient talent retained at headquarters to fill the cap remains to be seen.


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