Priti Patel calls for investigation into Remain campaign spending over Keira Knightley video

Posted On: 
28th May 2018

Ex-Cabinet minister Priti Patel has demanded election watchdogs probe fresh claims that the official Remain campaign breached referendum spending rules.

The former Cabinet minister wants Remain spending to be probed
Credit: 
PA Images

The arch-Brexiteer has called on the Electoral Commission to act over concerns a video featuring a raft of prominent British celebrities could have broken referendum spending rules.

It comes amid numerous claims that the official Vote Leave campaign also breached spending rules by donating cash to sister-groups and directing its use.

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The “Don’t F*** My Future” campaign video, featuring A-list actress Keira Knightley and model Lily Cole, was produced by an ad agency for a £76,000 fee.

The video was commissioned by Remain-supporting groups but were prominently featured on the social media pages of the official Remain campaign, Britain Stronger in Europe.

Former International Development Secretary Ms Patel said that the practice could have breached the strict £7m spending limit for the official EU campaigns.

In a letter to the election watchdog, she said: “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*** My Future’ campaign, which many different remain organisations appear to have involved themselves in.”

She added that the Commission should launch a formal investigation into Britain stronger in Europe or drop its probe into Vote Leave.

A spokesperson for Britain Stronger in Europe dismissed the accusations as “politically motivated and unsubstantiated claims”.

They said: “Following hot on the heels of the dismissal of her previous complaint in December 2017, this demonstrates Priti Patel’s complete lack of understanding of electoral law.

"It is common practice for campaigns to post third party content on social media.”

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said: “We have not received the allegation formally yet but when we do we will consider it in line with our enforcement policy.”

It comes after the election watchdog fined the Brexit-supporting Leave.EU campaign £70,000 and referred chief Liz Bilney to the police after it uncovered breaches of electoral law.