When claims were made that Vote Leave, the designated Leave campaign for the 2016 EU referendum, and supposedly unconnected campaign BeLeave had in fact been run more or less as one campaign, with spending limits therefore being breached, there was a pushback of singular vehemence. Dominic Cummings was having none of it. His pals at the Guido Fawkes blog echoed his claim that he would be taking legal action.
It didn’t happen. Cummings, not for the first time, proved to be all wind and piss, and had made his threats without even bothering to get himself a lawyer. The opinion prepared by Matrix Chambers for the Commons DCMS Committee named him, and also Downing Street aide Stephen Parkinson, as potential parties to lawbreaking. Now we have yet more evidence that there was coordination between Vote Leave and BeLeave.
A letter to the DCMS Committee from Facebook spells it out. “[Aggregate IQ] appears to have run ads - ie incurred spend on our platform - with a total of 21 Custom Audiences on behalf of Vote Leave and BeLeave between 15 February 2016 and 23 June 2016 inclusive … Additionally, our investigations to date have found there was one Data File Custom Audience, one Website Custom Audience, and one Lookalike Audience that were used to select targeting criteria for potential ads during this period by both the Vote Leave and BeLeave pages”. And then comes the bombshell.
“They were the exact same audiences, ie one was not a subset of the other … The common audiences we found were as follows”. These are three of these listed.
One, “The first audience was a Data File Custom Audience named ‘50million_remains’”.
Two, “The second audience was a Lookalike Audience named ‘Lookalike (GB, 10%) - 50million_remains’”.
Three, “The third audience was a Website Custom Audience named ‘Vote Leave Instapage Submissions’”.
Think about that. This is why whistleblower Shahmir Sanni was so viciously outed, with the apparent approval of 10 Downing Street, by his former partner Stephen Parkinson. This is why Dominic Cummings has been threatening and blustering to no purpose, and why he is resisting moves to cause him to appear before the DCMS Committee. It is yet more crystal clear evidence that the official Leave campaign may have been a criminal conspiracy.
We already knew that Leave EU, the rival Leave campaign fronted by the likes of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, broke its spending limits, and blatantly so. Now we know that Vote Leave, the officially designated Leave campaign, was not only at it too - but we know how shamelessly they were doing it. The lawbreaking was that serious.
The Leave campaign broke the rules, and the law, so blatantly and so seriously that, once more, the question has to be put: how can the 2016 vote now stand?
Winning is easy when you cheat. Repenting at leisure - now that’s the difficult one.