Priti Hands Dossier of Remain Collusion Evidence to Electoral Commission

Priti Patel has handed a dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission that demonstrates beyond doubt that the various Remain campaigns coordinated their spending in breach of the rules. The Commission’s guidance is clear: “you are very likely to be working together if you have joint advertising campaigns”. That is exactly what the various supposedly independent campaigns did regarding the “Don’t F*ck My Future” advertising campaign. Guido cannot see how the Remain campaigns can claim they did not co-ordinate.

Having looked through the documents on the Electoral Commission’s website, I note that, according to Adam & Eve/DDB’s returns, producing these advertisements cost in excess of £76,000. However, only one campaign – Wake Up And Vote – ever paid an invoice to DDB for producing the videos, and only for £24,000. The remainder of the cost appears to have been funded by a mixture of payments and donations from other campaigns and major Remain donors.

Wake Up And Vote

Directly invoiced by ‘Adam and Eve’. Asked to pay £24,000 for the video

Wake Up And Vote received the entirety of their funding (£100,000) from Lisbet Rausing, one of the main donors to Britain Stronger in Europe and Conservatives IN 

Britain Stronger in Europe

Gave £7,467 to DDB on 1 June for ‘advertising’, but this was declared as notional expenditure with ‘Adam & Eve’, so no invoice or further details were provided. This means it is unclear what precise advertising it is for.

We Are Europe

Gave £10,000 to DDB on 29 June but did not declare any joint spending 

We Are Europe received the majority of its funding from two of Britain Stronger in Europe’s main donors, Lord Sainsbury (£116,000) and Ian Taylor (£99,000)

Britain Stronger in Europe, Wake Up And Vote, We Are Europe, and DDB were all registered as independent campaigners in their own right but none declared this as joint spending. Despite only one campaign paying an invoice for the advertisements and registering this with the Electoral Commission, multiple campaigns were reported to be involved in producing the videos:

14th June – it was reported that the ads were made for We Are Europe 

14th June – in an interview with the co-founder of ‘We Are Europe’, it was reported that the videos are a ‘collaboration between agencies adam&eveDDB and Kin&Co, alongside campaign groups Wake up & Vote and We Are Europe’ (link)

15th June – it was reported that the ad was made for Britain Stronger In Europe 

24th June – it was reported that the ads were made for We are EU (presumably ‘We are Europe’) 

Britain Stronger in Europe, Wake Up And Vote, We Are Europe, and DDB all distributed these videos widely on social media. And despite not reporting any payments towards the cost of the video, Britain Stronger in Europe hosted the advert on its website, with no branding added to suggest that it was not an official Britain Stronger in Europe video. It is important to note that the video on the website was not ‘shared’ (which might be seen as in keeping with the rules), but was actually hosted. This means that Britain Stronger in Europe were provided with a service which they then made use of in their advertising. To anyone visiting their website, it would have appeared that the video was produced by Britain Stronger in Europe for their campaign purposes. This is a clear breach of the spending rules.

Priti quite reasonably says:

This goes further than any accusations levelled at Vote Leave about having a ‘common plan’ for campaign activity. This provides demonstrable evidence that Remain campaigns colluded in producing adverts with a ‘common plan’, and in doing so avoided the cost of the project being included in Britain Stronger in Europe’s spending.

The Electoral Commission say they are considering the evidence. It would be a joke if they do not investigate this clear evidence of spending coordination…

Priti Demands New Probe Into Remain Spending and Questions Electoral Commission Impartiality

Following fresh revelations today about the Remain campaign overspend during the referendum, Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission calling for an investigation. Readers will remember the Electoral Commission refused to investigate previous evidence of Remain overspending, despite investigating Vote Leave for the same thing. Priti warns the Commission there are questions over their impartiality – Guido has the letter:

I am writing, further to our correspondence earlier this year, and in light of the revelations in the Sunday Telegraph about new evidence of services being shared among the various Remain campaigns in the 2016 EU referendum.

I am sure you share my deep concerns that Britain Stronger in Europe seems to have been provided with services by other Remain campaigns without declaring the expenditure in the appropriate way. There is evidence that many campaigns appear to have acted as a mere continuity of the official Remain campaign as it approached its spending limit, the most egregious example of this being the regrettably named ‘Don’t f*ck my future’ campaign, which many different Remain organisations appear to have involved themselves in.

As you will be well aware, the findings in the Sunday Telegraph are just the latest example of concerns being raised about how the Remain campaign conducted itself during the referendum. There have been numerous ‘warning signals’ over the last few months, including several media reports that have strongly suggested that Britain Stronger in Europe tried to circumvent the Electoral Commission’s rules during the EU referendum. As a reminder, these include:

  • Admissions by senior figures within Britain Stronger in Europe that they were coordinating messaging and campaign activity with other Remain campaigns including Labour In, Conservatives In and the Liberal Democrats.
  • The fact that a number of Remain campaigns were set up in the month leading up to the referendum, which received hundreds of thousands of pounds from donors who had previously made payments to Britain Stronger in Europe and other pro-EU campaigns.
  • Reports that Britain Stronger in Europe were delegating ground campaign activity to the Labour Party, potentially sharing campaign material such as leaflets and canvassing data.

When I wrote to you earlier this year to highlight some of these concerning pieces of evidence you decided to take no action – claiming there were no ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that these activities were ‘part of a common plan or other arrangement’. We are now faced with a situation where others are instead having to undertake the sort of investigation that the Commission should have taken months ago. It is all the more concerning, as a significant proportion of the evidence cited in the Sunday Telegraph report appears to have come from the Electoral Commission’s own records.

This raises serious questions about the impartiality of the Electoral Commission. The material uncovered in the Sunday Telegraph, coupled with the evidence made public earlier this year, suggests that the Commission has decided to hold Leave campaigns to one standard, and Remain campaigners to another, much lower standard.

In November last year, you decided to open a third investigation into the official Vote Leave campaign, even though you admitted in your assessment that there was no new evidence to justify the reopening of this investigation. Despite the absence of any suggestion that the official Leave campaign indulged in the apparent collusion described above, you have nonetheless continued your investigation.

In reopening the case, you set a very low threshold for triggering an investigation into a campaign. And yet, despite setting this low threshold, you have since refused to open any sort of investigation into the Remain campaign – despite the ever-growing volume of evidence that these campaigners were breaking the Commission’s rules.

I am not unsympathetic to the challenges that the Electoral Commission faces. I understand the reasons behind your suggestion to Parliament that the rules on coordination need to be reviewed. But while I accept the argument that the law should be improved – and that this is beyond your control – what is undeniably in your control is the power to treat campaigns equally.

I believe that the Electoral Commission has an important role to play in our democracy, but that role comes with an important responsibility – to be politically neutral at all times. If you want to restore confidence in the Commission, you should either start a formal investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe, or show equity and end the investigation in Vote Leave. The public – and Parliament – want to see the Commission acting with political balance.

I look forward to hearing from you .

Yours sincerely

The Rt. Hon. Priti Patel

The threshold for investigation is low, the Electoral Commission is already investigating Vote Leave for lesser alleged offences… It would tell you all you need to know about the Remainer-stuffed Electoral Commission if they refuse to look into this…

Will Collins Ask Electoral Commission About Remain Overspend?

The Electoral Commission is up in front of the Culture select committee this morning. Guido is sure the Remainer-packed committee, which has been the most one-sided, non-reality based, grandstanding committee by a mile under the tenure of ultra-Remainer chairman Damian Collins, will ask about the Remain campaign’s overspend. A good place to start would be Priti Patel’s letter to the Electoral Commission outlining clear evidence of Remain spending breaches, which for some strange reason the Commission declined to investigate. Culture committee members can read up on the evidence here. Surely Collins will want to ask about the Commission’s double standards?

Priti Accuses Electoral Commission of Bias and “Double Standards”

Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?

What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at [25] of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at [31] – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.

In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.

Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:

I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.

She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie

Priti Asks Electoral Commission to Investigate Remain Campaign

Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission asking them to launch an investigation following Guido’s stories on how the Remain campaign flouted spending rules during the referendum. As we revealed last week, Remainers shared data, suppliers and campaign materials, coordinated spending, funnelled £1 million to new campaigns set up in the month before the vote, and potentially spent double the legal limit. Priti says:

“There needs to be a thorough investigation into the actions, expenditure and financial probity of Remain campaigners, who appear to have flouted the rules and the spirit of the law to advance their cause in concert with each other.

It cannot be right that remain campaigners can so blatantly flout the rules to feed the British people their propaganda. As well as coordinating campaigning and spending they used every organ of the British state to try to bully people into staying in the EU. They even spent £9m of taxpayers’ money on a campaign leaflet breaking the normal rules of fair play of our democratic system.

‘Despite this wall of fear and fury the British people held their nerve and bravely voted to take back control. Brexit will be a great liberation for this country – but the leadership of the remain campaign must still be held to account for their actions.”

Read her letter in full below:

The Electoral Commission have told the BBC they are looking into Guido’s stories, but have yet to launch a formal probe. A lot of evidence landing on their desk this morning…

Tory Stars Court Young Activists at Xmas Bash

Big turnout at a Christmas bash for young Tories in Westminster last night, where 100 enjoyed wine and mince pies, with another 200 on the waiting list. A dozen MPs came along to the venue on Smith Square; speeches from movers and shakers James Cleverly (who reminded the room of the role of young people in preventing a socialist government), George Freeman and Priti Patel were well received.

A lot of excited discussion about the future direction of youth movement within the party. Who knows, maybe the Tories might even have a youth-wing in 2018?

Priti Unleashed: Government “Failing” on Brexit, Must Decide End State

Priti Patel said what she really thinks at the Spectator’s event on the future of the Tory party tonight, blasting the government for its “failings” on Brexit, claiming it is “ill-equipped” to handle the negotiation and criticising Theresa May for refusing to hold a Cabinet discussion on the end state.

Leading Brexiteers have been telling Number 10 for months that a Cabinet meeting must be held where the two factions of the government can thrash out whether Brexit Britain is going to look like Hammond’s desired future convergence with the EU or the Leavers’ preferred divergence from Brussels. Priti aired their demands for “conviction and clarity in terms of our end state”.  As James Forysth pointed out, it’s extraordinary that this discussion hasn’t been had yet. 

The ousted former International Development Secretary also warned the government “has been ill-equipped in terms of preparations for the negotiations” and said on the financial settlement: “I don’t like spending money. I would have told the EU to sod off with their excessive financial demands”.

No prizes for guessing why the still ambitious Priti was laying it on thick with Tory members, talking about giving power back the grassroots and “starting from scratch” with the party hierarchy. On Brexit she is saying publicly what a lot of Leavers have been saying privately for months…

Pic via @maxlburnett

Priti’s Course on How to Stage an Exit

Priti Patel from the backbenches:

“I’m speaking today following an intensive course in the past week on how to stage an exit. For anyone who is still tracking my movements…”

Friday Caption Contest (Patel A Lie Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Well done to commenter John Sharp who won last week’s caption contest with the funny (but inevitable) entry “brexterminate”. Get in touch to claim your copy of Quentin Letts’ new book Patronising Bastards

Priti Resigns

Priti Patel has resigned as Secretary of State for International Development. Long day…

UPDATE: The exchange of letters. Priti Patel offers “a fulsome apology” to Theresa May and the government in her resignation letter:

UPDATE: No replacement until tomorrow:

Priti Lands

Wheels down for Priti Patel at Heathrow, no time for duty free as she is quickly whisked into the waiting motorcade. Guido can confirm she has turned her phone on and gone online on WhatsApp:

She has also changed her WhatsApp status, referencing Nadhim Zahawi defending her as a “workaholic” on Newsnight last night:

Gallows humour…

Number 10: Jewish Chronicle Report Untrue

After the Jewish Chronicle reported that Number 10 knew about Priti Patel’s meeting with Bibi before they previously admitted and also ordered Priti to cover up details of two further meetings with Israeli officials, a Downing Street spokesman says the JC is wrong:

“It is not true that the Prime Minister knew about the International Development Secretary’s meeting with PM Netanyahu before Friday 3rd November. It is equally untrue to say that No 10 asked DfID to remove any meetings from the list they published this week.”

Not looking good for Priti, who is currently somewhere over Greece and due to land at Heathrow just after 3pm…

UPDATE: Flight Radar live on Sky News: ‘As you can see she’s currently somewhere over Albania…’

Where’s Priti?

The word is Priti Patel never made it to Uganda and instead stayed overnight in Nairobi. There is speculation she is now flying back to London – could she be on the Nairobi to London flight which departed 6:30am UK time? Priti was last active on WhatsApp at 6:16am our time, so it looks like a possibility. You can follow the flight hereIf so she’s due to land in London some time after 3pm…

UPDATE: Looks like Priti is without WiFi for the next eight hours:

Priti: Small Leaders Are Best

Priti Patel talked repeatedly about “my leadership” during her conference speech, and joked at the beginning:

“Some of our most successful leaders have been the smallest.”

Leadership bid klaxon!

Davis and Priti Won’t Rule Out Leadership Bids

David Davis criticised “self-indulgent” colleagues plotting leadership bids on Marr, though failed to rule out a run himself, insisting: “I’m not getting into it”. Always ambitious Priti Patel gave even less of a non-denial on Peston, refusing to answer the question several times. Count them in your runners and riders…

Notable that Davis broadly endorsed Hammond’s desire for transitional arrangements (though his preference is two years rather than four). The Sunday papers are reporting a Hammond-Davis plot to take over from Theresa May, and Davis’ former SpAd James Chapman is stirring it up:

A ticket that would be tough for Leave Tories to stomach…

Sexists For Remain

patel ROACHE

Uh oh! GMB union chief and leading Remainer Tim Roache tells his annual conference:

“Priti Patel, surely a contradiction in her name”

Think Tim should have gone to Specsavers…

BSE’s Will Straw said Tim Roache “speaks for over 600,000 working people” when he endorsed Remain back in February. Now Straw is silent. Meanwhile Harriet Harman is the big gun wheeled out for the Remain campaign today. She would be touring the studios if a Leaver had said this...

UPDATE II: Roache doubles down:

UPDATE III: BSE statement on the man they described as “fantastic” three months ago:

“Comments like this have no place in this debate.”

UPDATE IV: Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan: “This abuse is a new low for the remain campaign.”

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Immigrants 540

Campaign Report: Day 29

patel

Leave message: IMF bullying British voters and cheating purdah rules.

Remain message: “Independent” institutions back Remain.

Cut through: Christine Lagarde.

Leave social media count: 361,731 likes, 41,072 followers.

Remain social media count: 394,153 likes, 27,631 followers.

Odds: Remain 1/3 Leave 9/4

Latest poll: Remain 44%, Leave 46% (ICM, online). Poll of Polls is now Remain 50%, Leave 50%.

Gove Tops ConservativeHome Leadership Poll

govech

Before Govians get too excited Guido should of course caveat that this is what Mike Smithson calls a “voodoo poll“, a self-selecting unweighted poll of readers. It does still show a clear trend; Remainers are down, Leavers are up.

Priti Patel is equal in popularity to Osborne as far as ConHomies are concerned (20 to 1 if you feel lucky). After the disappointment with Saj (7%), many on the right who don’t trust Boris and think Fox is past it are increasingly thinking about the merits of Priti. One to watch…

Media Minister Monitor: Fireman Fallon Deployed

MMM March the ministers

In February referendum fever saw government ministers make 55 broadcast appearances, in March Downing Street entered bunker mode and the number plunged to just 35. The statistics show Craig Oliver is enforcing a “one minister a day” policy for broadcast appearances as they look to dodge accountability. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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