It was another of those moments which might have floored lesser politicians, but once again Nigel “Thirsty” Farage breezed through it, lies and all: the inevitable questions following the Channel 4 News revelations that he had benefited to the tune of £450,000 from donations from his old mucker Arron Banks.
Squeaky caught lying again finger up the bum time
First, he denied the claims. Those Rotten Lefty™ broadcasters were trying to stitch up poor Nige. It was to be expected; they were trying to take the gloss off his triumphal procession around the UK, and his new party’s inevitable triumph at the upcoming European Parliament elections. Then he was told that Banks had confirmed the payments.
Was Nige fazed? Not a bit of it. Look, it was all about him trying to establish a new career for himself as a media star in the USA. He was rather enjoying it, too, until those useless Westminster politicians denied the people their referendum choice. It had been about him getting back on his feet and getting on with his life. It was, he proclaimed, irrelevant to the EP election campaign. Except it was highly relevant.
As the Independent has reported, Farage “is facing an investigation by European parliament authorities over claims that he failed to declare nearly half a million pounds in gifts from an insurance tycoon under investigation by the National Crime Agency. It was claimed this week that the Brexit Party leader has been given as much as £450,000 in kind by Arron Banks, including a chauffeur-driven car, rent and bills on a £4.4m Chelsea home, and lavish trips to the United States to meet with right-wing politicians”. There was more.
“But none of the gifts, detailed in invoices seen by Channel 4 News, were declared on Mr Farage’s register of interests with the European parliament, which is designed to prevent MEPs from keeping their conflicts of interests secret.” That’s £450,000 he’s failed to declare. And he’s running for re-election to that same Parliament.
So will an investigation go ahead? Seems it will. “In a letter seen by The Independent, one of the European parliament’s quaestors - MEPs responsible for the body’s financial and administrative matters - calls on the parliament’s presidency to ‘investigate these apparent contraventions as a matter of urgency’. The push for an inquiry comes days before British voters are set to go to the polls for the European parliament elections”.
One of those quaestors, Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder, observed “I can see no reference to any of the reported travel or accommodation subsidies related to Mr Farage’s US tour on any of his declarations of financial interests on the parliament’s website”. That may be because they are not there. And the problem for the EP is that they might fine him - not for the first time - but he would still be able to take his seat if re-elected.
Moreover, there is still the question of where the £450,000 actually originated. Arron Banks, it should be remembered, cannot afford to live in his mansion, instead occupying the rather more humble lodge, and hiring out the main house for events.
There has been too much fawning over Farage, especially during the EP election campaign. Perhaps our free and fearless press could start asking questions instead.
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