BREAKING: Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign accused of breaking electoral law during the EU referendum

UKIP Gutted Brexit
Support us and go ad-free

A prominent MP has accused the campaign to leave the EU supported by Nigel Farage of unlawful behaviour. The politician says the Leave.EU campaign has not declared that it used the services of Donald Trump’s billionaire social media guru. And it raises serious questions about the entire result.

Robot wars

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock has asked the Electoral Commission to look into claims that the Leave.EU campaign used the services of a “psychographic” social media strategy company. Kinnock’s argument is that the company, Cambridge Analytica (CA), may have given free help to Leave.EU. And if it did, the value of this ‘donation in kind’ would likely have pushed the Brexit campaign over its legal spending limit. Raising serious questions about the validity of the EU referendum result.

Trump used CA in the 2016 US Presidential election. His campaign paid $5m for its services in one month alone. It uses analysis of bulk data to ‘tailor’ messages and adverts to users on Facebook. This is done by looking at what users say and ‘like’. As The Canary previously reported:

In short, it’s all about persuading people, possibly without their knowledge, to act in a certain way or adopt certain attitudes. An ideal approach when it comes to influencing elections.

Robert Mercer funds CA. He is a Trump adviser and also a financial backer of right-wing news site Breitbart, whose former Executive Chairman Steve Bannon (now Trump’s chief strategist), happens to be a board member of CA.

Don’t look at us!

But Leave.EU has denied this. Its Communications Director Andy Wigmore said:

[CA] did no work for us formally and if they had it would have been way before you had to report expenditure. [Kinnock is a] remoaner [and] a rabid Europhile. [Leave.EU] never employed CA and they never gave us anything in kind. We met them way before the referendum even started a year before 23 June… [and] kept in touch that’s all and it’s true that one of their directors participated in our initial press conference to launch Leave.EU in October 2015.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

But The Guardian said that Wigmore admitted CA was “among supporters and friends who provided ideas and strategy” to the campaign’s official political consulting firm, Goddard Gunster.

Wigmore also said that Mercer had introduced CA to Leave.EU. And the campaign’s financier Arron Banks seems confident as to why the UK voted to Brexit:

CA also works on several British and US government defence projects in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Swiss data activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye said of CA:

Is it going to be used to try and manipulate people around domestic policies? Or to foment conflict between different communities? It is potentially very scary. People just don’t understand the power of this data and how it can be used against them.

Porky pies?

The Electoral Commission said it doesn’t comment on specific cases. But it would look at Leave.EU spending details:

until it is satisfied that they are complete and accurate.

If the commission finds that Leave.EU did unlawfully get CA to target/manipulate (delete depending on your viewpoint) voters in the referendum, then the result may be thrown into question. But either way, it shows that the creep of technology into democratic processes, and the lengths to which politicians will go to persuade the public to vote for them, knows no bounds.


UPDATE: Changed “former Chief Editor Steve Bannon” at 3:05pm on 2 March to “former Executive Chairman Steve Bannon”.

Get Involved!

Read more from The Canary on Brexit.

Support The Canary.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed