While his pals Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore keep up their ill-advised attacks on the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has encountered a little local difficulty of his own, becoming embroiled in a Bloomberg exclusive which fingers him as complicit in abuse of election night polling data.
Squeaky currency manipulation finger up the bum time
The narrative is straightforward: soon after polls closed in the EU referendum vote, Farage went on TV and told that Remain had most likely won. The currency markets, which had been tracking the polls, reacted immediately: Sterling rose above $1.50, reaching its highest level for six months. However, a group of hedge fund bosses had access to private exit poll data which suggested the opposite - that Leave had in fact won.
The Bloomberg report puts it directly. “The law is clear: It would have been a violation if, prior to the polls closing, ‘any section of the public’ had gotten the same data the pollsters sold privately to hedge funds”. It seems Farage had that information.
As the report then tells, “He twice told the world on election night that Leave had likely lost, when he had information suggesting his side had actually won. He also has changed his story about who told him what regarding that very valuable piece of information”. Just what Mr Thirsty was up to is then alluded to in this paragraph.
“The private exit poll that appears to have had the most clients was conducted by Farage’s favourite pollster and friend, Damian Lyons-Lowe, whose company is called Survation. It was sold to multiple clients and correctly predicted Leave, according to Farage and other sources familiar with the results. In an interview with Bloomberg, Farage said he learned of Survation’s results before making at least one of two public concessions that night, meaning there was a good chance he was feeding specious sentiment into markets.”.
That means Farage had the information that Leave was likely to have won, but still went out there and claimed otherwise. His pals made hundreds of millions of pounds out of betting on a fall in the market. Reaction was, understandably, adverse to The Great Man. Jo Maugham asked “Hard to imagine @Nigel_Farage did this for free... is there more to come on this extraordinary story?” Tim Walker of The New European mused “It needs to be established too if Farage was rewarded for what he said”.
Chris Morris of the BBC noted it had been “One of the most profitable single days in the history of their industry” for the hedgies. Catherine Pickersgil asked “Farage will have been paid for this … I wonder where it's stashed. Could it perhaps be in Belize?”
Nige’s pals all hurried to rubbish the story, not least Isabel Oakeshott: “This is such rubbish. I was with @Nigel_Farage/ other Brexit campaigners that night. Till the early hours of the morning, he was sure Remain had won”. But no-one believes her. Arron Banks agreed: “he was depressed all day because he didn’t believe we would win”.
Then Andy Wigmore gave the game away by launching a tirade of abuse against Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy. “You tool it didn’t happen and @Nigel_Farage had nothing to do with any of it and by the way what law have the hedge funds broken? Wake up @PeterKGeoghegan this is just another moronic attack on Brexit by morons”.
Yeah, and what’s More, Ron … Farage himself let his adoring fans know “On my @LBC show at 7pm I will discuss the latest Brexit conspiracy theory from Bloomberg”. Which means he wasn’t going to discuss it with anyone he couldn’t have cut off. Including Liz from London. But James Felton, meanwhile, had unearthed more incriminating evidence.
Noting that the Leave EU post-referendum party had cheered at news the Pound had fallen, he observed “Cheering as your own currency plummets is an odd thing to do if you aren't shorting the pound”. Along with a most interesting slice of sub-titling.
Bloomberg’s report has Mr Thirsty bang to rights. All we need to know now is how much he made out of his post-polling cameo. It might even earn him a Bafta.
Whether or not one is allowed to take such awards into those nice Stateside correctional facilities is not, however, known. But what is known is that while many of those who voted leave are going to see their living standards go down the pan, Farage will not.
You’ve been had for mugs, Leave voters. But Nige will already have banked the cheque.