If anyone still needed to know just how crass and bigoted those in and around the Leave EU campaign really are, today brought more proof, as the alleged “Man who bankrolled Brexit” Arron Banks found himself and his pals referred to the National Crime Agency by the Electoral Commission. The EC’s legal chief Bob Posner did not hold back.
“We have reasonable grounds to suspect money given to Better for the Country came from impermissible sources and that Mr Banks and Ms Bilney, the responsible person for Leave.EU, knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided … This is significant because at least £2.9m of this money was used to fund referendum spending and donations during the regulated period of the EU referendum”.
There was more. “Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed which fall beyond the remit of the Commission … This is why we have handed our evidence to the NCA to allow them to investigate and take any appropriate law enforcement action. This is now a criminal investigation”.
Banksy responded in true shifty spiv style: “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing from the companies I own. I am a UK taxpayer and I have never received any foreign donations. The Electoral Commission has produced no evidence to the contrary”. We’re not talking about his companies, nor whether he personally received foreign donations, and it’s not for him to gainsay the EC’s evidence. And did anyone say “money laundering”?
But he did have one card up his sleeve: he put out a statement, which at the very end says “Isn’t it funny that none of the financial contributions made by George Soros to British political campaigns are ever subject to any level of scrutiny by the Electoral Commission despite his being a foreign national”. It was Soros all along!
This, of course, is both irrelevant - George Soros, as Jessica Elgot of the Guardian has pointed out, made no donations during an election period - and the crudest form of dog-whistling. Arron Banks is, like rather too many in our free and fearless press right now, indulging in low-level anti-Semitism as a diversionary tactic.
No, nothing to do with him ...
And to no surprise at all, those who have been so enthusiastic over shouting “anti-Semitism” at the Labour Party recently have been absent elsewhere this time. Ross Kempsell, former apprentice sandwich monitor to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, just put out Banks’ statement with no comment. His former berth also missed the dog-whistle, instead praising Banksy’s dribblings as “punchy”.
... but potential for Squeaky FBI finger up the bum time
The reality is that Arron Banks is prepared to use the crudest racism to deflect from his latest little local difficulty. And that the tireless Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer, together with the good people at Open Democracy, have been proved right once again.
How many more from this photo will be following Banksy?
Plus, of course, with the FBI now investigating Steve Bannon’s role in Cambridge Analytica, that brings one more well known name back into the frame: a pal of both Banksy and Bannon whose collar-feeling moment is long overdue.
That person is Nigel “Thirsty” Farage. I’ll just leave that one there.
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