Campaigning in the EU Referendum, 2016

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  • Feb.12.2018: Russia More Influential Than Leave Campaigns During Brexit. New analysis by confirms that the scale of Russian media influence during Brexit vote dwarfed the main Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns, driving anti-EU propaganda, disinformation and fake news to influence voters. The Kremlin campaign peaked on Jun.23.2016 as the British cast ballots. Russia and Leave.EU have downplayed Facebook ad buys, focusing on a figure of 72 pence spent by RT on marketing on the platform, 89UP estimates the value of 8.74 million Facebook impressions discovered in the analysis could be around £70,000. Key conclusions: Russian State Media had the same impact on the UK as both leading Leave campaigns. The Russian impact on Twitter was larger than both Leave campaign's combined efforts. ByLine, J.J. Patrick
  • Feb.09.2018: UK Fake News Inquiry Joins Forces With US Russia Probe. The UK's Fake News Inquiry, chaired by MP Damian Collins, has travelled to Washington to interview Social Media giants about Russian influence on Brexit. Britain is at the start of what will be a painful process but Collins has teamed up with Senator Mark Warner to fight the attacks on democracy. ByLine, J.J. Patrick
  • Feb.09.2018: UK Fake News Inquiry Joins Forces With US Russia Probe. Internet_Research_Agency (IRA) is a troll farm in St Petersburg which runs thousands of accounts identified so far in the US. The IRA directly spent $1,000 on Twitter ads during Brexit, but significant questions remain around foreign funding during the referendum, specifically centred around the Leave groups connected to Nigel Farage. Paid advertising is the thin end of the wedge. Off the books we have an extensive problem. The easiest way to explain the function of the botnet is to describe it as money laundering, but for social engineering. This is where the importance of bots and trolls vs. paid advertising comes in: they are doing the same thing, but only one has official records to turn over. Nigel Farage and his partner Arron Banks are being investigated by both the ICO and the Electoral Commission and Farage remains a person of interest to the FBI in the Mueller inquiry, under which key #Leave.EU figures have been interviewed by agents. ByLine , J.J. Patrick


Best For Britain

See main article: Best for Britain

Britain Stronger in Europe



  • Sept.14.2018: The High Court has just found that the Electoral Commission erred in law. the Electoral Commission unlawfully gave permission to Vote Leave to spend more than Parliament had allowed. It gave that permission to Vote Leave but there is no suggestion it gave it to Stronger In. The body in charge of ensuring the Referendum was fair ensured it was unfair. Vote Leave broke the law twice over. It broke the law – as the EC has already found – by ‘working together’ with Darren Grimes. The shady Constitutional Research Council – which donated to the DUP – is likely also to have broken the law. This excellent BBC investigation suggests the CRC controlled the DUP’s spending. Jolyon Maugham QC, Twitter.


  • Darren Grimes

BeLeave was a digital campaign advocating a Leave vote at the EU referendum aimed towards younger voters and run by Darren Grimes and Shahmir Sanni. It targeted younger voters who supported its liberal, internationalist, outward-looking message, campaigning for fair immigration, a global Britain, and one in which your vote and voice matters outside of the undemocratic European Union.

Better Off Out

See main article: The_Freedom_Association#Better_Off_Out

Britain First

Campaign against Euro-Federalism

Campaign for an Independent Britain

Another one of the longest-standing eurosceptic organisations, founded in 1969 as a coalition bringing together groups and individuals opposed to UK entry to the Common Market when the existing EEC members gave a green light to negotiations with the British govt. The CIB opposed British entry in 1973, supported our exit in the 1975 referendum and has sought UK withdrawal in the ensuing decades. Lord Stoddart of Swindon has been a stalwart supporter, with figures like the late Sir Robin WilliamsWikipedia-W.svg, Edward Spalton and George West playing a key role over the years. It functioned as a membership campaign (for instance, organising a speakers’ rally outside the Bank of England over the euro), a publisher of campaign booklets, and a grassroots liaison hub with the likes of CAFE and CAEF becoming affiliates. It is also worth noting that the establishment of an Oxford University branch of CIB was an early political act of future MEP Daniel Hannan in 1992. The 50 Groups Behind Brexit. Jonathan Isaby & Matthew Elliott, BrexitCentral, Mar.18.2017.

European Movement of the UK Ltd


CEO: Liz Bilney; Leave.EU was the Brexit campaign established by UKIP donor Arron Banks and businessman Richard Tice, originally known as The Know (when the referendum question was expected to have a Yes/No answer). Backed by Nigel Farage, they worked with Grassroots Out under the GO Movement umbrella to be a contender for official designation as the official ‘Leave’ campaign. After losing the designation battle, the predominantly UKIP-aligned campaign focused particularly on the issue of immigration and used their significant social media presence to target large numbers of voters across the country.

  • Feb.01.2019: Leave.EU and Arron Banks insurance firm fined £120,000 for data breaches. The Information Commissioner's Office fined Leave.EU for using Eldon Insurance customers’ details unlawfully to send almost 300,000 political marketing messages, and a further £45,000 for its part in sending an Eldon marketing campaign to political subscribers. Eldon was fined £60,000 for the latter violation. The ICO will begin a full audit of Eldon and Leave.EU’s joint offices, staff and records. Leave.EU is already being investigated by the National Crime Agency over a £multimillion donation the Electoral Commission believes came from Rock Holdings, one of Banks’s companies that is based in the Isle of Man, and thus not legally allowed to participate in UK elections. The Guardian.

Better for the Country Ltd

  • Nov.07.2015: Tax-avoidance Gibraltar firm behind anti-EU campaign group. Leave.EU, which has been backed by the UK Independence party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage, and describes itself as “Britain’s fastest growing grassroots movement”, was incorporated in the UK as a wholly-owned subsidiary of a finance firm based in low-tax Gibraltar that specialises in “international wealth protection”, STM Fidecs. The multimllionaire Ukip donor Arron Banks, who now owns Leave.EU, was until recently a “substantial” shareholder in STM Fidecs’s parent company. Leave.EU – whose official name on Companies House Records is Better for the Country Ltd – was incorporated in July by STM Fidecs, which was the sole shareholder until August. Ownership then passed to Banks, a former Tory donor who defected to Ukip, pledging £1m to Farage’s party. The Leave campaign group’s other “ambassadors” include financier Jim Mellon, who made his £850m fortune by investing in emerging markets, including Russia. Daniel Boffey, The Guardian.
  • Electoral Commission statement
  • May.27.2018: Priti Patel calls for investigation into remain campaign spending. The Brexit-backing Tory MP Priti Patel questioned the impartiality of the Electoral Commission and said it should either investigate 3Britain Stronger in Europe or end its inquiry into the Vote Leave campaign. Britain Stronger in Europe said Patel’s complaint showed a “complete lack of understanding of electoral law” and noted that a previous complaint of Patel’s had been dismissed. This month the Electoral Commission fined the campaign body Leave.EU £70,000 and referred its chief executive, Liz Bilney, to the police after it found it had breached multiple counts of electoral law during the referendum. The commission also found that Leave.EU inaccurately reported 3 loans it had received from companies controlled by its co-founder Arron Banks, who described the fine as “a politically motivated attack on Brexit”. The Guardian.
  • May.11.2018: Leave.EU fined £70,000 over breaches of electoral law. Campaign’s chief officer referred to police after inquiry finds it broke referendum spending limit. Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 and its chief executive has been referred to the Metropolitan police after the Electoral Commission found it had breached multiple counts of electoral law during the referendum to leave the European Union. The group campaign chief, Liz Bilney, one of Banks’s closest associates, faces a police investigation. Labour MP Liam Byrne has written to the commission asking why it failed to investigate the source of Arron Banks’s financial contribution to Leave.EU. He also called for a prosecution under joint enterprise rules to target those who enabled the offence. He said: “It seems highly unlikely that in this case the named responsible officer was acting on purely her own designs.” Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, described the breaches as “serious offences”. However, #Vote Leave faces a separate investigation into whether it also breached campaign finance rules by funnelling cash to other pro-Brexit groups in the final days of the referendum. The Electoral Commission’s chief executive, Claire Bassett, rejected claims of bias made by Banks. Matthew Weaver, Jim Waterson, The Guardian. See also What did Leave.EU do wrong, and could its breaches stop Brexit?, and The Electoral Commission has a problem – but it’s one of weakness rather than influence.
  • Apr.14.2018: Leave.EU, Arron Banks and new questions about referendum funding. The Information Commissioner's Office is investigating Leave.EU and its donor Arron Banks over possible breaches of the Data Protection Act. The ICO has issued “information notices” against Leave.EU and Arron Banks. The notices are both part of Operation Cederburg – the commissioner’s year-long investigation into the use of data in the EU referendum. In a separate development, the Observer has obtained an invoice that Cambridge Analytica issued on Dec.14.2015 for £41,500 for work it undertook on behalf of UKIP. Banks confirmed that he was also sent the invoice at that time too. He said he subsequently made a donation for the amount to cover the invoice to Ukip. Banks has long denied that Cambridge Analytica did any work for Leave.EU, as has Cambridge Analytica. The revelations raise a whole new set of questions about how the referendum was funded and whether strict rules on spending may have been broken. And a donation of £42,000 from Better for the Country, Leave.EU’s registered company name, was recorded as a political donation to the party on the Electoral Commission’s site one week before the referendum on Jun.16.2016. It was not registered as part of the campaign by either entity as a referendum donation or expense. Separately, the ICO investigation is believed to be trying to understand the relationship between Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance Services, the Bristol-based insurance company that Banks owns and that was the HQ for Leave.EU referendum campaign work. Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian.
  • May.13.2017: If Cambridge Analytica did "help" @LeaveEUOfficial (as they said they did), that would be illegal. An "impermissible" donation. A foreign billionaire buying influence in a UK election. Evidence of grounds to investigate: illegal campaign co-ordination, illegal sharing of data, illegal foreign or "impermissible" donations. But no ball. @cpsuk & @metpoliceuk say it's up to @ElectoralCommUK. Which would be fine. But just one teeny tiny problem... this all happened offshore. It's outside British jurisdiction. Were British laws broken by British people in British referendum to change British constitution? No way to know because firm is in Canada! Only, it doesn't end there. Today @guardian publishes new, unanswered and profoundly troubling questions - they might not look like much of a smoking gun but it places Robert Mercer bang smack in the middle of Brexit. Remember Robert Mercer owns @CamAnalytica? Who "helped" @LeaveEUOfficial? Run by @SteveKBannon, chief strategist to @realDonaldTrump? Turns out he also owns IP of @AggregateIQ the Canadian firm hired by @Vote_leave. And they share a database! Linkback: Squire Patton & Boggs, SCL Group. @CaroleCadwalla, Twitter.
  • Nov.19.2017: My fear and fury in the eye of the Russia-Leave storm. Theresa May has finally acknowledged that Britain is not insulated from fake news and lies from the Kremlin, but what is the govt going to do about it? I've received "beat you up" videos. The Russian ambassador launched an attack on "unscrupulous" MPs and journalists peddling a "fake news agenda" - Leave.EU made a meme of that and tweeted it. I'm furious. I'm boiling with rage. The bullies are winning. Lies are winning. This assault on truth, justice, democracy is winning. "We know what you are doing,” Theresa May said of Russia. It’s not enough to know. We need to do something about it. We need to be not OK with any of it. The frog is boiling The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr
  • Oct.24.2017: Here's Leave.EU's Foul-Mouthed Denial Of Using Twitter Bots To Influence The Brexit Vote. Andy Wigmore, former head of communications for Leave.EU, the Brexit campaign backed by Nigel Farage and UKIP, has denied it used social media bots to boost its message during the EU referendum battle. The denial came after researchers at City University of London discovered a network of 13,000 pro-Brexit Twitter bots active around the time of the referendum. Damian Collins, head of parliament's Culture, Media and Sport committee, wrote to Twitter asking for more information on Brexit-related bot activity; and wrote to Facebook to ask for any information the social network has in relation to suspected Russian influence on either the Brexit vote or the general election of 2017. BuzzFeed News, James Ball
  • May.14.2017: Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire? This signed legal document – a document that was never meant to be made public and was leaked by a concerned source – connects both Vote Leave and Leave.EU’s data firms directly to Robert Mercer. In February, Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU's communications director, revealed to this paper that Nigel Farage was a close friend of both Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. He said that the Leave campaign was a “petri dish” for the Trump campaign. “We shared a lot of information because what they were trying to do and what we were trying to do had massive parallels.” Wigmore also said that Mercer had been “happy to help” and Cambridge Analytica had given its services to the campaign for free. There are several major Tory donors and pro-Brexit figures associated with Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections, including Lord Marland, former treasurer of the Conservative party and head of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. The pro-Brexit Tory donor Roger Gabb, the owner of South African wine company Kumala, is also a shareholder and was involved in one of the Leave campaigns. The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr
  • May.14.2017: "The Science Behind Our Strategy" @LeaveEUOfficial website. Deleted since. But know, there's this archive thing. Twitter, @CaroleCadwalla
  • May.14.2017: Cambridge Analytica employee actually on the official panel at the official launch as @LeaveEUOfficial Director of Program Development. (Screenshot) Twitter, @CaroleCadwalla
  • Apr.02.2017: Arron Banks: ‘Brexit was a war. We won. There’s no turning back now’. Arron Banks is the co-founder of Leave.EU, spearheaded by his close confidante Nigel Farage. Andy Wigmore, Raheem Kassam, UKIP, He threatened to sue Matthew Elliott – the director of the official Vote Leave campaign – for calling Leave.EU racist. Andy Wigmore, Jim Mellon. Banks has launched a new politics site, Westmonster, and in his sights is the Westminster elite and the metropolitan elite. The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr
  • Nov.20.2015: The Science Behind Our Strategy. Cambridge Analytica are world leaders in target voter messaging. They will be helping us map the British electorate and what they believe in, enabling us to better engage with voters. Most elections are fought using demographic and socio-economic data. Cambridge Analytica's psychographic methodology however is on another level of sophistication. Goddard Gunster, who have fought some of the most contentious referendum campaigns all over the world (with a success rate of over 90%) will be helping us turn that data into a comprehensive strategy. Working alongside them will be Ian Warren, an expert on the issues that matter to people on lower incomes. Leave.EU,
  • Nov.18.2015: Here is @LeaveEUOfficial launch. With Cambridge Analytica's Brittany Kaiser sitting next to Arron_Banks. (YouTube url: [YouTube]) Twitter, @CaroleCadwalla

Leave Means Leave

A cross-party campaign set up after the referendum under the co-chairmanship of businessman Richard Tice, the #Leave.EU co-founder, and John Longworth, who chaired Vote Leave’s Business Council. They have been exerting pressure on the govt to deliver what both sides of the referendum argued would happen in the event of a Leave vote: leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and ending the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy.

Liberal Leave

Liberal Leave was a pressure group within the Liberal Democrats dedicated to securing a Leave vote in the referendum and making the UK’s exit from the European Union a success, while promoting a Liberal vision for Brexit. Mark Pursey played a leading role in the group and although lacking in high-profile support – its most prominent backer was former MP Paul Keetch – Liberal Leave took their arguments to the Liberal Democrat conference and were met with scorn and bemusement by the party establishment. Liberal Leave argued that to European federalists, British democracy is an inconvenience and that the EU is illiberal, undemocratic and incapable of reform, routinely disadvantaging nations in need.

Metric Martyrs

The campaign group known as the Metric Martyrs came about in 2001 after greengrocer Steve Thoburn and others were convicted of selling goods using imperial measurements without also giving the metric equivalents, as required by EU law. They took cases to court which sadly confirmed the supremacy of EU law in this area and campaigned for the freedom to sell goods in whichever unit they chose. A similar position had been taken by Vivian Linacre’s British Weights and Measures Association since its founding in 1995.

Scientists for Britain

  • Brexit: Leave WhosInWhosOut
  • Professor Angus Dalgleish
    • 2016: Currently sits on 8 editorial boards, is the author or co-author of peer reviewed scientific papers and over 70 chapters in medical books. He is the co-editor of five medical books. He has been on numerous grant committees and is currently on the European Commission Cancer Board.
  • Dr. Christopher Leigh
    • 2006–: Involved in both UK-funded and EU-funded science education projects; has gained a good understanding into the inner workings of the EU machine, and to the pros and cons of conducting collaboration at National, European, International and EU level.
  • Dr. Teck Khong
    • 2002– On approved list parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party.
  • Dr. Lee Upcraft
  • Jamie Martin
    • Special Adviser to Michael Gove when he was the Secretary of State for Education and whilst in opposition
    • Currently works in Venture Capital, focused on education technology companies in Africa.
    • Was a management consultant focused on K12 and higher education at the Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte consulting.
    • Writes regularly on education, science and technology policy including for the Guardian, Sunday Times, and Times Higher Education.
  • Dr. Julia Reid MEP
    • 2011: Worked as a political researcher in the European Parliament
    • Jan.2013: Adopted as the UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for the Chippenham constituency
    • May.2014: Elected as an UKIP MEP, representing the South West Counties and Gibraltar.
  • David Banks, spent a year in political communications, advising front-bench spokespeople on communications and research, where he first studied the effects of EU policy.
  • Professor Michael Loretto

Veterans for Britain

Veterans for Britain is a group of former military personnel, chaired by Major General Julian Thompson, which campaigned for the UK to Leave the European Union, successfully challenging the Remainer narrative that Brexit would be bad for Britain’s security. Its supporters combine top brass with other ranks. Now run by David Banks, Will Carver and Lee Rotherham, it includes Major General Tim Cross, Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Colonel Richard Kemp amongst its supporters.

  • Dec.05.2017: Who are Veterans for Britain? You can’t understand Brexit without understanding Veterans for Britain. The fascinating details I have found while investigating the people who make up a key pro-Brexit group, Veterans for Britain, make one thing clearer than ever. The Brexit movement was led by Establishment England. Last month, an Electoral Commission press release announced a new investigation into two donations at the heart of the Brexit campaign. The first was made to Veterans for Britain. The organisation, set up “to put forward the Defence and Security arguments for the UK to vote to leave the European Union,” told the Commission they got £100,000 from #Vote Leave Ltd in May 2016, and spent £100,000 with the then obscure Canadian data analytics firm AggregateIQ. The second went to a 23 year old called Darren Grimes, a student with no previous campaigning experience who ran the #BeLeave pro-Brexit campaign, and claimed that a sudden £623,000 payment from Vote Leave to AggregateIQ was made on his behalf. (ToDo: map) Adam Ramsay, {{{website}}}.

Vote Leave

Vote Leave was the official Leave campaign at the EU referendum. Set up by Business for Britain in 2015, it was led by Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings, with other key staff including Georgiana Bristol, Oliver Lewis, Stephen Parkinson, Paul Stephenson and Victoria Woodcock. It was chaired by Gisela Stuart and secured backing from leading politicians including Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Lord Lawson and Lord Owen, while building an activist base of tens of thousands of supporters who delivered millions of leaflets and spoke to millions of voters across the country. Taking on the might of the govt, the Bank of England, the IMF and the entire weight of establishment groupthink, Vote Leave secured the victory that eurosceptics had dreamed of for decades, but many doubted would ever be achieved.

  • Jul.04.2018: If Vote Leave has cheated the will of the people, MPs must take action. The Electoral Commission’s findings mean it’s beyond doubt that there is no proper mandate to leave the EU. We now know the Electoral Commission believes that Vote Leave, the “official” leave campaign, broke the law. This comes in the wake of its conclusion that Arron Banks’s Leave EU broke the law. But what does this actually mean – for the referendum and our democracy? Back in Feb.2016 – while lobbying for Vote Leave to be recognised as the designated leave campaign – Steve Baker MP (now a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union) wrote of a loophole he believed he had uncovered. The “designated campaign will be permitted to spend £7m,” he said. But he also added: “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.” ... ... The Electoral Commission took a cursory look at this and concluded that there was no wrongdoing. But the Good Law Project, which I set up, sued. The Electoral Commission consequently agreed to reopen its investigation. Thanks to Matthew Elliott, the former chief executive of Vote Leave who chose to release the details of the accusations the commission has made against it (in an attempt to pre-emptively challenge and perhaps neuter their impact) we now know it has written to Vote Leave stating it believes it broke the law. But an even bigger question is what this means for the referendum result, and the future of our democracy. In 2015, parliament debated whether the EU referendum needed legal safeguards. It eventually went on to jettison a series of legal rules that normally apply to safeguard votes from cheating. The sad consequence is that – although a judge may yet join the Electoral Commission in deciding Vote Leave broke the law – there is unlikely to be any way in which a court might declare the outcome void. Parliament instead left to MPs the job of choosing what to do with the referendum, which government ministers made clear was “advisory”. There are also serious questions about how much Michael Gove knew about these arrangements. In an interview in March, he denied being involved in the day-to-day running of the campaign. But Vote Leave’s own documents record that he, along with Boris Johnson and Matthew Elliott, “meet on a daily basis … to ensure that the campaign is on track”. Is his case that, despite these daily meetings, he did not know of or approve how over 10% of Vote Leave’s cap was used? Jolyon Maugham, The Guardian.
  • Apr.13.2018: Vote Leave broke spending limits on industrial scale, says former staffer. Mark Gettleson is third whistleblower to come forward to make claim over EU referendum spending. In written evidence to the Electoral Commission, Mark Gettleson, a communications consultant, claims two of Theresa May's political advisers were among the senior directors at Vote Leave involved in assisting the activities of a youth group, #BeLeave, which was ostensibly a separate organisation. Vote Leave donated £625,000 to BeLeave which then spent the money on digital advertising in the last critical days before the vote. The submission says that the Commission should investigate whether any such offences were committed with the “knowledge, assistance and agreement” of key figures in the campaign including Stephen Parkinson and Cleo Watson, who both now work for the PPM, and its chief strategist, Dom Cummings. Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian.
  • Mar.24.2018: Brexit insider claims Vote Leave team may have breached spending limits. Shahmir Sanni, who volunteered for the official Vote Leave campaign as treasurer and secretary, has broken cover to raise concerns that the masterminds behind the 2016 vote – including key figures now working for Theresa May – may have flouted referendum spending ruMPs to debate claims that official Brexit campaign colluded to breach spending and then attempted to destroy evidence. Sanni’s central claim concerns a donation of £625,000 that Vote Leave ostensibly made to BeLeave, an independent referendum campaign organisation. He claims the money, channelled to a AggregateIQ, a digital services firm linked to Cambridge Analytica, violated election rules because it was not a genuine donation. BeLeave registered the money with the Electoral Commission (EC) as a donation from Vote Leave. Sanni says BeLeave shared offices with Vote Leave – fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – which in practice offered advice and assistance and helped them to decide where the cash would be spent. Sanni says that after the EC opened an investigation in Mar.2017, Victoria Woodcock, Vote Leave's operations director and board secretary, deleted herself, campaign director Dominic Cummings and Vote Leave’s digital director, Henry de Zoete, from dozens of files on the drive Vote Leave shared with BeLeave to hide the fact of co-ordination. On Friday, Cummings blogged that this was "factually wrong and libellous". Vote Leave say staff acted "ethically, responsibly and legally in deleting any data". Other senior figures in Vote Leave included Stephen Parkinson, now Theresa May’s chief adviser, who disavows all responsibility for any and everything. Cleo Watson, now a political adviser alongside Parkinson in Downing St, was head of outreach for Vote Leave, was in touch with it and was a member of a closed Facebook group for BeLeave contributors. A leaked email in Feb.2016 from Steve Baker, now a junior minister in DExEU, floated the idea of creating "separate legal entities each of which could spend £700,000". Sanni believes this is exactly what happened with BeLeave. Sanni believes Vote Leave’s senior officials took advantage of the group’s youth and Grimes' political inexperience to ramp up their own spending. He says BeLeave was helped by Vote Leave staff to set up its own constitution and bank account so that it could accept donations of its own. Vote Leave's lawyers did the legal documentation. The payment to AIQ was ostensibly made by BeLeave as the referendum campaign drew to a close, but Sanni claims BeLeave didn't have any choice about where the cash would be spent, didn’t sign a contract with AIQ, and did not direct what the data firm did with the funds. The money never even passed through the group’s own bank account. Venner Shipley, Vote Leave’s lawyers, said: "We have never been instructed by, nor have we ever provided advice to BeLeave". Sanni works for the Taxpayers' Alliance Carole Cadwalladr,Emma Graham-Harrison, Mark Townsend, The Guardian.
  • Sept.18.2017: How loopholes allowed pro-Brexit campaign to spend ‘as much as necessary to win’. New tranche of Electoral Commission emails show how Vote Leave gave student Darren Grimes £675,000 overnight – and the worrying implications for British democracy. A string of emails released under FoI demonstrate the full scale of the loophole in Britain’s electoral rules which allowed Grimes and #Vote Leave to spend this extraordinary sum – and the worrying implications it has for British democracy. But Darren Grimes didn’t spend the money at all. All the donations to cover his bills were paid by the official Leave campaign, Vote Leave, directly to AggregateIQ, the data analytics firm linked to Robert Mercer. The firm was used by a range of different Leave campaign groups, who between them paid £3.3m for its services during the referendum. All in this together? Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK highlighted the role of dark money in the Brexit referendum. "Far from being the people’s plebiscite, the facts show the referendum campaigns were dominated by big money on either side of the debate. Our research found that over 50% of reported donations came from just 10 people, with only 100 donors accounting for almost all of the reported contributions that were made". openDemocracy UK, Peter Geoghegan, Adam Ramsay

Students for Britain

Students for Britain was the student wing of #Vote Leave, chaired by Tom Harwood. Active in over 50 universities around the country, it brought together thousands of student activists and provided a vital platform challenging the notion that young people all supported Remain. It succeeded in grabbing the headlines with its “Voice of Brussels” protest at the 2015 CBI conference and a witty campaign distributing condoms with pro-Leave slogans to students. The 50 Groups Behind Brexit. Jonathan Isaby & Matthew Elliott, BrexitCentral, Mar.18.2017.


  • Feb.15.2018: What we've discovered in a year investigating the dark money that funded Brexit means we can't stop now. Dark Money. (Basically a recap of the investigation to date. Worth re-reading.) openDemocracy, Adam Ramsay
  • 2017.11.21: Johnson and Gove in the frame as Brexit campaign comes under investigation The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced an investigation into the activities of Vote Leave, which campaigned for Brexit during the 2016 EU referendum. The investigation follows a submission for a judicial review into earlier inquires and a detailed witness statement. The EC will also inquire into funds given by Vote Leave to BeLeave, a pop-up pro-Brexit group set up by 23-year-old Darren Grimes. Vote Leave handed a total of £625,000 to BeLeave. This was subsequently given to Canadian-based "audience persuasion" specialist AggregateIQ (AIQ) (founded by Zack Massingham) via 3 payments: $565,500, $264,000 and $58,500. The EC will further investigate Veterans for Britain, which received £100,000 from Vote Leave, paid directly to AIQ. Also, Vote Leave’s chief technologist Thomas Borwick (together with renegade Tory and UKIP (now independent) MP Douglas Carswell) has set up a new campaign called Disruptive Communications Ltd. The EC is also looking into how millionaire Arron Banks was able to furnish multi-million-pound donations to the Leave.EU campaign, fronted by UKIP’s Nigel Farage. Canary, Tom Coburg
  • 2017.05.13: Serious money is buying and selling our votes, and democracy is the loser. Vote Leave, the campaign backed by Tory MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, had its own campaign software Voter Intention Collection System (VICS). Cummings breaks down (page 12) the $3.6m spent on the social media campaign, organised by the Canadian-based technology firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ), mostly spent on Facebook. One of the key players in the voter behaviour industry is SCL. Dr Aleksandr Kogan, a lecturer at Cambridge University, first introduced the SCL to the idea of using social media data to model human personality traits. Kogan used Amazon's crowdsourcing marketplace Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to access a large pool of Facebook profiles. This saw the hoovering of tens of thousands of individuals’ demographic data, as well as Facebook "likes". That data was later used commercially by SCL, which allegedly crawled the profiles of friends of the Facebook users. US-based Cambridge Analytica (CA) is an offshoot of SCL. The exploitation of behavioural or "emotional triggers", such as images of migrants "swamping" the country, is one of the behavioural management techniques used by SCL/CA. Robert Mercer is a financial backer of CA + Trump + Breitbart News. Former Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon is a board member of CA. AIQ’s intellectual property (IP) is owned by Mercer. Thomas Borwick, a former consultant for CA and SCL, was the chief technology officer for Vote Leave. The Canary has previously published details of the links between the Brexit campaigns and associates of US president Trump. These links are summarised in this diagram by The Guardian: (map). Sophie Schmidt advised SCL head Alexander Nix to check out the work of US data intelligence agency Palantir Technologies. Schmidt, daughter of Google chairman Eric Schmidt, used to work for SCL Elections, which was later renamed Cambridge Analytica. Palantir is chaired by billionaire and Paypal founder Peter Thiel, who is also a board member and major investor of Facebook. Earlier this year Thiel joined Trump’s transition team. Palantir has contracts to handle vast data sets on UK citizens for British spy agency GCHQ, as well as US citizens for the NSA. In addition, Palantir has developed an aid for the spyware XKEYSCORE programme, used by the NSA and its Five Eyes partners and subsequently exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Such spyware could be useful for garnering consumer data, including, no doubt, voter lifestyle preferences. (more...) The Canary, Tom Coburg
  • 2016.07.25: Vote Leave Used A Really Simple Trick To See All Remain's Announcements In Advance. The pro-Brexit campaign used a series of fake news email accounts to get advance notice of Stronger In announcements such as George Osborne's emergency Budget, BuzzFeed News can reveal. BuzzFeed News, Jim Waterson