The electoral commission yesterday said it would review fundraising by the new Brexit Party founded by anti-EU populist Nigel Farage, which is predicted to win this week’s European elections.
“We are attending the Brexit Party’s office today to conduct a review of the systems it has in place to receive funds,” a spokesperson for the commission said in a statement.
“If there’s evidence that the law may have been broken, we will consider that in line with our enforcement policy.”
The move follows a growing furore around the financing of the fledgling eurosceptic party, set up by the controversial MEP in January in protest at the government’s failure to deliver Brexit.
It claims to have registered nearly 110,000 supporters paying £25 annual membership fees, but has drawn scrutiny for using a PayPal system that critics claim is too open.
British law only regulates donations to political parties over £500, which must come from UK citizens or UK-registered companies.
Labour MP Chris Bryant was among those to raise concerns, saying it would be “simple” for a foreign power or individual to donate “hundreds or thousands of £499 in sterling or other currencies”.
“Our democracy is basically up for sale,” he said.
The Daily Mirror newspaper last week reported it had signed up as a Brexit Party supporter under the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin, giving the address of the Kremlin in Russia.
“The Brexit Party, like all registered political parties, has to comply with laws that require any donation it accepts of over £500 to be from a permissible source,” the commission added in its statement.
Farage has branded the increasing interest in his new venture’s funding a “disgusting smear” and “conspiracy theorists doing their utmost to try and delegitimise” it.
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