Farage accuses Electoral Commission of being ‘absolutely full of Remainers’
The Brexit Party leader, in an interview with the Press Association, also labelled Channel 4 News ‘political activists’.
Nigel Farage has accused the Electoral Commission of being “absolutely full of Remainers” as the watchdog visited the Brexit Party’s headquarters amid a review into its donations system.
Mr Farage claimed the regulator was staffed by establishment figures and was not a neutral organisation – and said he believed his party was “more compliant” than any others standing in the European elections.
The Brexit Party leader, in an interview with the Press Association, also labelled Channel 4 News as “political activists”, after it reported that insurance tycoon Arron Banks had spent approximately £450,000 on Mr Farage in the year following the EU referendum in 2016.
It came as a European Parliament committee announced it would investigate a complaint about Mr Farage for allegedly failing to declare payments made to him by Mr Banks.
The complaint was submitted to European Parliament president Antonio Tajani by British Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, a parliament source confirmed.
Under European parliament rules, MEPs must declare payments made to them, or other support given by third parties. On Tuesday, Mr Tajani referred the issue to an advisory committee of five MEPs that investigates the conduct of members.
Discussing his party’s donation system ahead of the committee’s announcement, he said: “I’ve got a team of four qualified accountants looking after our money, our income. I bet we’re more compliant than any of the other parties in this election.
I’m not stupid, I’ve set this up properly, I’m entirely confident that we are more compliant than any of the other parties right now Nigel Farage
“I’ve crossed with the Electoral Commission before – they are not a neutral organisation, absolutely full of Remainers, full of establishment figures.
“We are about not just leaving the European Union, the Brexit Party is about changing politics for good – getting SW1 and Westminster to reflect the country more broadly and the Electoral Commission are part of that huge reform that is needed.”
Mr Farage said his party was looking for repeat donations, and had sent money back if it was unsure where it had come from.
“I’m not stupid. I’ve set this up to take on the Labour and Conservative parties who, I think, have betrayed the biggest democratic vote in our nation’s history. I know that when you do that the establishment will not come out with a tray of gin and tonics and say ‘well done’.
“I understand how it works. As I say, I’m not stupid, I’ve set this up properly, I’m entirely confident that we are more compliant than any of the other parties right now.”
Mr Farage confirmed he was not talking to Channel 4 News following their reports, saying: “I’m not speaking to them now, they are political activists. They are supposed to be a public service broadcaster, they’re not behaving in that way.
“We’ve no interest in talking to them whatsoever.”
Asked if he was blocking their questions, he said: “If you think I’m funded by Russia, just watch Channel 4 News, because that’s the kind of tosh they come out with regularly, and I’ve just had enough of a series of accusations, in many cases based on nothing.
“This is a two way street – the relationship between people in politics and the media is always going to be a slightly tense one, obviously, but it only works if everybody ultimately has a bit of respect for each other.
“And we as an organisation have at the moment lost respect for Channel 4 News.”
He said Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice had asked to sit down with the broadcaster to talk about the issue.
“We’re not being silly about this, we’re just saying let’s try and get this relationship on an even keel.”
The editor of Channel 4 News, Ben de Pear, said on Twitter: “We hope to resolve our access ban from Brexit Party events ASAP.
We hope to resolve our access ban from Brexit Party events ASAP. We were unaware of the 6-week ban until last Thursday when we broadcast this Nigel Farage investigation, revealing he had been bankrolled by £450k from Arron Banks. Until then we had full access, including to Farage https://t.co/giVSm2CIxg— Ben de Pear (@bendepear) May 21, 2019
“We were unaware of the 6-week ban until last Thursday when we broadcast this Nigel Farage investigation, revealing he had been bankrolled by £450k from Arron Banks. Until then we had full access, including to Farage.”
An Electoral Commission spokesman said: “Last week’s meeting with the Brexit Party was an opportunity to meet with representatives of this newly formed party. Today’s visit is about taking a closer look at the systems the party has in place to receive funds.
“It gives us active oversight of the rules and this includes helping those regulated to understand them and to ensure there are systems in place to comply with them.
“As a newly registered party running a national election campaign who have put information into the public domain about the level of their fundraising, it is right and proper for the regulator to be in regular contact with the Brexit Party.
“We have been talking to the Party since it registered, discussing the rules and the party’s systems. But recently we have seen significant public concern about the way the party raises funds.
“We have not seen evidence of electoral offences, but the law in this area is complex and we want to satisfy ourselves that the party’s systems are robust.
“Our regulatory work during this campaign – for the European Parliamentary elections – has not deviated from our usual approach. We are an independent and impartial organisation which is accountable to Parliament.
“We regulate as is proportionate to the issue, regardless of a party’s politics. Our decision to visit is not related to comments made by the former prime minister.”