Britain’s Electoral Commission is investigating whether a leading anti-EU campaigner breached referendum finance rules, after speculation mounted that Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote. Arron Banks, a major donor to the anti-EU campaign who was pictured with Donald Trump and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage outside a gilded elevator soon after Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential election victory, denied the allegations. The Electoral Commission, which is already looking at whether Banks’ pro-Brexit Leave.EU group received any impermissible donations, said its new investigation would examine whether he was the true source of loans to a campaigner.
The investigation cannot overturn the referendum, though Banks, a 51-year-old insurance tycoon, said it was an attempt by the “Remain establishment” to discredit the Brexit result.
“Allegations of Brexit being funded by the Russians … are complete bollocks [rubbish] from beginning to end,” Banks said in an emailed statement, signing off “nostrovia”, a version of “na zdorovye”, Russian for “cheers!”.
When asked about the investigation, Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament: “We take very seriously issues of Russian intervention, or Russian attempts to intervene, in electoral processes or in the democratic processes of any country.”