Priti Patel complains to Electoral Commission over Remain campaign spending

Posted On: 
2nd January 2018

Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel has called for a "thorough investigation" into Remain campaigners' spending during the EU referendum. 

Priti Patel campaigning during the EU referendum

Ms Patel claims to have evidence that some of the smaller Remain campaigns were coordinating their spending with the main Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) group in a way that she claims "flouted the rules".

The former development secretary has pointed to remarks from former Downing St communications chief Craig Oliver, whose memoirs discuss co-ordinated morning calls between BSE and other pro-European groups.

However the Commission's rules state that there must have been spending arising from the co-ordination for a breach of the rules to have taken place.

“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," Ms Patel said.

“It cannot be right that Remain campaigners can so blatantly flout the rules to feed the British people their propaganda.

“As well as co-ordinating campaigning and spending they used every organ of the British state to try to bully people into staying in the EU. They even spent £9 million of taxpayers’ money on a campaign leaflet breaking the normal rules of fair play of our democratic system.”

However a source told The Times that BSE had properly registered all the co-ordinated work it did with other groups, while a BSE spokesman said it had "always complied fully with Electoral Commission rules on working together".

The official pro-Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, is already being investigated by the Commission over whether it breaches the strict £7m campaign spending limit.