Monday, 24 September, 2018

Leave backer walks out on MPs and admits ‘misleading’ voters

Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russia meetings Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russia claims
Steven Clarke | 14 June, 2018, 20:13

After the hearing, Mr Collins said: "Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore themselves put on the record that they frequently lie, exaggerate, misspeak and misunderstand".

However, the elections regulator did fine Leave.EU for breaching campaign finance rules.

They have come under scrutiny following reports about meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom and discussion of possible investment in Russian gold mines.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May was asked in the House of Commons by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw whether the newspaper revelations about Mr Banks showed it is "now time for a full police inquiry into the relationship between the Kremlin and the leave campaign in the European Union referendum". It would be nice.

"If I was intent on hiding my involvement with the Russians, I did a pretty bad job of that", Banks said.

Relations between the United Kingdom and Russia are at their lowest point in decades since the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury in March.

Mr. Banks reminded the committee that his wife is Russian, and said the lunch was fairly normal in the diplomatic and political community.

Meanwhile, it appears Banks has pulled out of a scheduled appearance on Newsnight where he may have faced less friendly interviewers. However, he changed his mind after newspapers revealed over the weekend two further undisclosed meetings with the ambassador.

The businessman sat alongside Leave.EU communications chief Andy Wigmore as they joined Nigel Farage for an exclusive LBC interview.

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He added: "Where's the evidence we took Russian money".

He also insisted that Leave.EU and UKIP had not worked with Cambridge Analytica during the Brexit campaign and said the "ad agency" did little unusual in the world of political campaigning.

"You've got a vested interest in trying to discredit the Brexit campaign... you've not called any witnesses from the Remain campaign to hammer them", he blasted later. Prime Minister Theresa May regularly accuses Russian Federation of meddling in foreign elections, but never includes the 2016 Brexit referendum - in part to avoid exacerbating deep divisions in the party on leaving the EU.

The disgraced data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of illegally harvesting Facebook profiles to sway the United States election and the Brexit vote, pitched for work with Leave.

Mr Paisley posted a picture on Twitter of the quartet smiling for the camera on the House of Commons terrace, Mr Banks with cigarette in hand. But I think we've been as open as we can be with the issues you played us through.

Mr Banks confirmed to the committee that he had been introduced to Cambridge Analytica by former Trump aide Steve Bannon.

Before the inquiry was even in full swing, Mr Wigmore made clear his annoyance over being grilled about links to Russian Federation.

He earlier admitted that he "led people up the garden path" during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Mr Wigmore added that "the piece of advice that we got, right from the beginning, was remember referendums are not about facts, it's about emotion and you have got to tap into that emotion".

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