Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Electoral Commission - Vote Leave and others

Vote Leave Limited was a designated lead campaigner in the 2016 EU Referendum campaign.

The Electoral Commission has published the conclusions of its investigation into Vote Leave’s EU referendum spending.  The Commission found significant evidence of undeclared joint working between the lead leave campaigner, Vote Leave, and the campaign group BeLeave.  The report (pdf) may be read via -


The Commission said on Twitter -

On over spending, the Commission state (para 4.25) - "As referendum spending by Mr Grimes and BeLeave was joint spending with Vote Leave, Vote Leave’s referendum spending was in fact £7,449,079. Its statutory spending limit was £7m. The Commission is therefore satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Vote Leave exceeded the spending limit for a designated lead campaigner of £7m"

Whether these important findings will affect the Referendum result is a matter that will be determined - IF AT ALL - in the political arena.  As a matter of law, the findings do not appear to invalidate the referendum.

In the present chaotic political climate it seems unlikely that there will be a great deal done more about the report but, as this assessment in the Irish Times by Peter Geoghegan shows, ignoring mounting evidence that the democratic process was compromised during the 2016 referendum could have long lasting consequences long after March 2019.

Venice Commission:

According to ‘The Code of Good Practice on Referendums’ issued by the Venice Commission, if the cap on spending is exceeded in a referendum by a significant amount, “the vote must be annulled.”

The Code, which is a non-binding guideline, was adopted by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission in 2006/2007.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. It was created in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, at a time of urgent need for constitutional assistance in Central and Eastern Europe.

The UK is a member of the Council of Europe and has signed up to the Venice Commission.

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