The Leave campaign is facing a possible investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS confirmed on 7 November that it is considering a complaint that Vote Leave and Leave.EU misled voters and contravened electoral law.
Held in June 2016, the EU referendum campaign was criticised for a lack of clear information from both sides. Empty slogans like “We want our country back!” or “best of both worlds” were repeated in lieu of actual content. Many people had no idea what Brexit would really mean.
To compound that, after its narrow 52-48% victory, Leave soon abandoned its major pledges. Its campaigners had toured the country in a bus promising £350m a week for the NHS if Britain left. Yet within an hour of the result declaration, Nigel Farage admitted this was false. Theresa May’s government also backed away from the claim.
At the same time, Leave promised to limit immigration by taking control of Britain’s borders. Yet the night after the Brexit vote, prominent Leave campaigner Daniel Hannan gave an interview in which he stated that free movement of people would have to continue.
A group of experts in electoral law, led by Professor Bob Watt of the University of Buckingham, have filed an official complaint, stating that the Leave campaigns made:
assertions of fact that were knowingly misleading
The complaint centres on “undue influence”, which electoral law considers a corrupt practice. It includes the use of a “fraudulent device or contrivance” to “impede or prevent or intend to impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise”.
The Guardian reports that:
If a case was brought successfully, it would not have any bearing on the referendum result or prevent the UK leaving the EU, but could result in criminal punishment of anyone held responsible by the courts for making false statements.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is now considering the complaint.
Since inheriting the situation, Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to clarify what form Brexit will take. On 3 November, she was blocked by the High Court from enacting Article 50 without the agreement of parliament. If this latest legal complaint is successful, and the Leave campaigns are shown to have broken the law, it will damage her position beyond repair. Her continued insistence on a ‘hard Brexit’ will be untenable.
– Read more Canary articles about Brexit here.
– Support The Canary so we can continue to bring you the news that matters.
Featured image via Flickr
Do your bit for independent journalism
Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.
We need you to help out, if you can.
When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.
You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.
In return you get:
- Advert free reading experience
- Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
- 20% discount from our shop