Back in January, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were in their element: under the heading “Guido Investigation”, and with the banner headline “Priti: Remainers Blatantly Flouted Spending Rules”, they told “Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission asking them to launch an investigation following Guido’s stories on how the Remain campaign flouted spending rules during the referendum”. This was followed up with more Ron Hopeful posts.
The EC declined to investigate, so Ms Patel “has accused them of bias and ‘double standards’”. All went quiet until May, when “Following fresh revelations today about the Remain campaign overspend during the referendum, Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission calling for an investigation”. This was over the Keira Knightley video, but third party video content does not count towards spending limits.
Then at the start of June, there was “Priti Patel has handed a dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission that demonstrates beyond doubt that the various Remain campaigns coordinated their spending in breach of the rules”. There was, though, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. There had been no lawbreaking, and no collusion.
So today, Business Insider has told “the Electoral Commision dismissed claims by former Conservative minister Priti Patel that the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign had been guilty of ‘joint working’ with other Remain campaign groups … They also declined to open an investigation into whether the campaign had a ‘common plan’ with other campaign groups, saying there was not sufficient evidence to justify a full investigation”.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears
There was more. “‘It was alleged that five campaigners were set up by BSIE and acted under a common plan,’ a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said. ‘The Commission has not been provided with, or found evidence for an investigation to be opened’”. As for daily phone conferences between some Remain campaigners, which did take place, “Evidence indicates that the meetings were advisory and did not involve or result in decisions on referendum spending” Oh dear, Fawkes folks!
So what has The Great Guido had to say in response to this setback? As if you need to ask. There has been a sob story about a Leave campaigner who “has suffered four investigations by the Electoral Commission”, but as yet, not a word about Priti Patel’s rebuff. There may, though, be a good reason for this.
The pretence that Remain campaigners had broken the law was another story pushed by soon-to-be-former Fawkes teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, who is off to join BuzzFeed News next month. His new employers won’t need reminding that they’ve invested in someone who, if they don’t keep tabs on him, is well capable of trashing their reputation with one whopper. So it’s time for a gentle reminder.
As well as a reminder that Priti Patel is a disgraced ex-minister who cannot be trusted any further than she can be usefully chucked. Another fine mess, once again.