Major Pro-EU Remain Campaign Group Fined for Making False Declarations During EU Referendum

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Electoral Commission has fined the European Movement, an active participant in the EU referendum which helped set up the official Remain campaign, for filing false returns.

The group’s ultimate goal is “the creation of a Pan‐European federation as the first step towards peace and world federalism”, according to its youth wing’s constitution, and it is heavily funded by the European Union.

In fact, the European Movement’s memorandum of association literally sets out its remit as “propaganda and other activities” — which it fulfils as part of a wider network of so-called civil society groups paid by the EU to lobby for greater European integration.

The European Movement took credit for the launch of Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE), the official Remain campaign which has now been rebadged as Open Britain on social media, with its then chairman Laura Sandys acting as BSE’s original director — a cause of some embarrassment at the time.

Remainers have now been further embarrassed by the Electoral Commission reporting that it has “fined the European Movement of the UK Limited £8,750 for delivering an incomplete and inaccurate spending return for the EU referendum”.

The EC said the group’s returns were “missing 23 payments totalling £14,307.39 as well as missing supporting invoices but included 47 payments totalling £112,863.18 which were not referendum spending”.

The European Movement does not appear to have commented publicly on the fine, but continues to campaign actively against Brexit to the present day, recently announcing that it will be organising an event in Parliament on October 24th alongside Scientists for EU and Healthier In — two satellites of the Remain campaign founded by Mike Galsworthy, who also leads research and policy development at the Scientists for Labour socialist society.

The revelations throw the so-called Remain resistance movement into some difficulty, as one of its latest counter-offensives against Brexit has hinged on creating the impression that Vote Leave was funded inappropriately.

Millionaire tax avoidance lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, who previously attempted to have courts in the Republic of Ireland refer him the European Court of Justice to establish a means of reversing Brexit, is now spearheading a campaign complaining Vote Leave may have overspent during the referendum.

The Electoral Commission dismissed the campaign’s claims as “without merit and not conceded in any respect” — but Maugham has not abandoned his efforts, deciding to crowdfund for a judicial review.

Remain campaigners did, in fact, outspend Leave campaigners by several million pounds, with the allowable spend by BSE and those political parties which declared for Remain far outstripping the allowable spend for the official Leave campaign, UKIP, and the DUP from the get-go.

The Cameron government then further loaded the dice by spending an additional £9.3 million of taxpayers’ money on a glossy leaflet urging the public to vote Remain, sending it to every British household and advertising it prominently on government websites.

Accusations that the referendum was being rigged through these spending discrepancies — as well as misuse of the Civil Service and public assets — were rife in the run up to polling day, but in the event Leave campaigners were able to overcome a stacked deck and clear Remain by well over a million votes at the ballot box.

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