Brexit Referendum Campaigns Face Official Spending Investigation

  • Electoral Commission says public deserve more transparency
  • Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe under scrutiny

The two sides in last year’s Brexit referendum are under official investigation after failing to report all their spending properly, the elections watchdog said as it warned that voters deserve more transparency from politicians.

The Electoral Commission said more than 27 million pounds ($34 million) was spent by all parties during the intense battle over Britain’s place in the European Union, which culminated in a vote to leave the bloc by 52 percent to 48 percent last June. 

The two official camps -- Vote Leave and Britain Stronger In Europe -- are accused by the regulator of failing to provide full details of all invoices for the spending they incurred.

“Missing spending details undermines transparency and makes the returns harder for the public to understand,” said Bob Posner, the Commission’s director of political finance. “Where it appears campaigners have not fulfilled their legal obligations, we have begun and will continue to take action to deal with this.”

The Electoral Commission oversees elections and referendums, and regulates donations and spending. It can impose financial penalties against campaigners found to have breached the law, while criminal prosecutions can follow in the most serious cases.

The regulator has launched formal investigations into both leading campaigns, as well as the pro-EU Liberal Democrat party and one individual campaigner. Brexit campaigners reported donations totaling 16.4 million pounds, while Remain backers received 15.2 million pounds.