The Electoral Commission must urgently and robustly investigate the question of whether or not the ‘will of the people’ was bought
Late last year, the Electoral Commission started an investigation into a striking set of circumstances. In February 2016 Steve Baker MP, lobbying for Vote Leave to be designated the “official” leave campaign, sent a round robin email asking recipients to support it, because it claimed to have found a loophole in the spending rules. “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities each of which could spend £700k: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum,” he wrote.
But Baker – now a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) – got it wrong. The law that protects our democracy from capture appears to make this behaviour illegal: when a sockpuppet signs your cheques, the spending still counts as yours.