Nigel Farage: Party funding claims 'a disgusting smear'

Bbc

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20.05.2019 11:54

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has accused Gordon Brown of "a disgusting smear" in a row over party funding.

At a speech in Glasgow, the ex-prime minister accused The Brexit Party - which is riding high in polls ahead of the European elections - of receiving "undeclared, untraceable payments".

The ex-prime minister has asked the Electoral Commission to investigate.

The Electoral Commission has said it works with all parties to ensure they comply with the law.

Mr Brown said there was no way of telling whether donations to The Brexit Party - which can be made through PayPal - come from British or foreign sources.

"You can pay to this party in Russian roubles or American dollars," he said.

"Democracy is ill served, and trust in democracy will continue to be undermined, if we have no answers as to where the money is coming from," he added.

Under the rules governing donations, amounts below £500 do not have to be declared.

An official donation of £500 or more must be given by a "permissible donor", who should either be somebody listed on the UK electoral roll or a business registered at Companies House and operating in the UK.

Pro-EU Labour MP Chris Bryant has also raised concerns, arguing: "It would be simple for a foreign power or individual to fund [The Brexit Party] by paying hundreds or thousands of £499 in sterling or other currencies as the party does not even verify names."

Responding to the Mr Brown's comments, Mr Farage said: "Most of our money has been raised by people giving £25 to become registered supporters."

"And over 110,000 of them now have done that. And frankly, this smacks of jealousy because the other parties simply can't do this."

'Conflict of interest'

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice said: "We've got a PayPal account for people paying less than £500; above that we apply the appropriate Electoral Commission rules."

Asked if he could confirm whether the party takes cash from foreign citizens, Mr Tice said: "I don't sit in front of the PayPal account all day so I don't know what currencies people are paying in, but, as I understand it, the PayPal takes it in sterling."

In 2013 the Electoral Commission issued guidance to parties that "if a donor makes regular payments for an unspecified donation and towards an unspecified total amount, our view is that these payments should be treated as separate donations."

During his speech, Gordon Brown also attacked Nigel Farage for receiving £450,000 from Leave campaigner Aaron Banks while still a member of the European Parliament.

Mr Brown said The Brexit Party leader should have declared the payments he was receiving "to avoid a conflict of interest".

However, Mr Farage has said he did not declare it to the European Parliament because he was about to leave politics and had been seeking a new life in the US.

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has written to the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani calling for an investigation into the matter.

URSPRÜNGLICHER BEITRAGE

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