Did Russia finance the pro-Brexit campaign?

  • 02/11/2017
Vladimir Putin and Theresa May.
Vladimir Putin and Theresa May. Photo credit: Getty/Newshub.

Prime Minister Theresa May says she takes reports of Russian interference in elections seriously, following an ongoing investigation in the United States over alleged Russian meddling in its 2016 presidential vote.

"We take very seriously issues of Russian intervention, or Russian attempts to intervene, in electoral processes or in the democratic processes of any country," Ms May told parliament.

The commission, which oversees elections and referendums in Britain, said it was investigating whether Mr Banks was the true source of loans that were reported to be in his name.

Mr Banks, a multi-millionaire British insurance tycoon, helped to bankroll the Leave.EU group. The group did not lead the official campaign for Britain to quit the EU, but was credited with mobilising people who do not typically vote.

Mr Banks, responding on Twitter to the announcement of the investigation, quipped: "Gosh I'm terrified."

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent of votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million voters, or 48.1 percent of votes cast, backed staying.

"Questions over the legitimacy of funding provided to campaigners at the referendum risks causing harm to voters' confidence," said Bob Posner, director of political finance, regulation and legal counsel at the commission.

"It is therefore in the public interest that the Electoral Commission seeks to ascertain whether or not impermissible donations were given to referendum campaigners and if any other related offences have taken place," he said.