Nigel Farage blasts 'disgusting smear' from Gordon Brown in Brexit Party funding row
Nigel Farage today accused Gordon Brown of peddling a “disgusting smear” after the former prime minister raised questions over Brexit Party funding.
The Labour ex-leader said the new anti-EU outfit was making “questionable claims” about the source of its war chest and demanded a probe by election watchdogs.
The Electoral Commission said it would visit the Brexit Party offices tomorrow to check "the systems it has in place to receive funds".
Mr Brown raised concerns about the numerous small donations the party has received, which do not need to be registered with the Electoral Commission and are said to make up the vast majority of its funding stream.
But the Brexit Party boss told PoliticsHome: "This is a disgusting smear from Gordon Brown, the man who worked alongside Lord Levy when Labour donors went to the House of Lords in large numbers.
"We are complying with electoral law in every way. The establishment are jealous of our rapid growth."
Mr Farage has previously been criticised for taking cash from insurance tycoon Arron Banks, who is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over campaign funding during the 2016 EU referendum.
At a speech in Glasgow, Mr Brown noted that donations to the Brexit Party could be made through PayPal using any currency.
"You can pay for this party in Russian rubles or American dollars," he explained."Democracy is ill served, and trust in democracy will continue to be undermined, if we have no answers as to where the money is coming from.”
He said the Electoral Commission had already warned “of the dangers of multiple, small, anonymous donations being a cover for dirty money”.
Labour MP Chris Bryant - who backs the campaign for a second EU referendum - also attacked the outfit over its funding model.
“It would be simple for a foreign power or individual to fund [The Brexit Party] by paying hundreds or thousands of £499 in sterling or other currencies as the party does not even verify names,” he argued.
ELECTORAL COMMISSION RULES
Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “We've got a PayPal account for people paying less than £500; above that we apply the appropriate Electoral Commission rules.”
He added: “I don't sit in front of the PayPal account all day so I don't know what currencies people are paying in, but, as I understand it, the PayPal takes it in sterling.”
Donations below £500 do not need to be registered with the Electoral Commission. The Brexit Party says most of its funding, which has topped £3m, comes from people registering for the £25 supporters scheme.
Any donation of £500 or more must be given by a “permissible donor,” which means a person listed on the UK electoral roll or a business operating in the UK and registered at Companies House.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “As part of our active oversight and regulation of these rules, we are attending the Brexit Party’s office tomorrow to conduct a review of the systems it has in place to receive funds, including donations over £500 that have to be from the UK only.
"If there’s evidence that the law may have been broken, we will consider that in line with our Enforcement Policy.”