openDemocracyUK

Brexit dark money revelations trigger MP's question on 'foreign interference'

openDemocracy's investigations into Leave donor Arron Banks and the DUP make global headlines, prompting calls for transparency. 

Mary Fitzgerald
20 October 2017
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Ben Bradshaw in the House of Commons (fair use)

An investigation by openDemocracy has made global headlines this week and triggered questions in the UK parliament about 'foreign and possibly Russian interference in western democracies'.

Citing our series of revelations this week on the 'dark money' that funded the Brexit campaign, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw yesterday asked Andrea Leadsom, the Speaker of the House:

"Has she seen the very worrying series of reports this week by openDemocracy, on the role of dark money in the EU referendum, including revelations of illegal donations to the DUP and new questions today over the real wealth of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of Leave?

Given the widespread public concern over foreign and particularly Russian interference in Western democracies, will she assure this house that the government and the Electoral Commission will examine these reports very carefully and reassure our country that all of the resources spent in the referendum were from permissible sources?"

The story was then quickly picked up by The New York Times, The Guardian, the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Arron Banks, the donor who gave the Leave campaign over £9m and whose sources of wealth we investigated in yesterday's story 'How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?' declined to comment to reporters following up the story. However he tweeted:

"The series of investigative reports Ben Bradshaw referred to were published by openDemocracy, a political website funded by none other than global George Soros, an expert in 'dark money'."

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Screenshot from Leave.EU Twitter used under Fair Use.

openDemocracy's funding sources are listed here.

We invite the same transparency from Mr Banks, and from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist party, which is still refusing to reveal the source of all its Brexit cash.

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

US Christian ‘fundamentalists’, some linked to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have poured at least $50m of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the past decade.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down find out more and support our work here. 

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

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