A comprehensive list of Vote Leave’s wrongdoings:
  1. Illegal overspending: An election in the UK legally allows each party to spend £7m on their campaign. Towards the end of their campaign, Vote Leave received a donation of £625,000. By failing to declare the donation, official records show the Vote Leave campaign to have spent £6.8m of the £7m — well within the legal range, despite having illegally overspent by 8 per cent. Muddying the waters further, it is still unclear who donated Vote Leave the money, though Veterans for Britain is a sure contributor.
  2. Collusion with BeLeave: BeLeave is a supposedly separate pro-Brexit group that worked closely with Vote Leave, set up by youth leader Darren Grimes. When Vote Leave received the sizeable donation, money was funnelled through BeLeave to Aggregate IQ.
  3. AggregateIQ: Appearing to be delivered to BeLeave, the donation was reportedly transferred to AggregateIQ, a small digital advertising company with links to Cambridge Analytica. Using similar data breaching methods as Cambridge Analytica, Vote Leave were able to target voters personally and persuasively and therefore fought what was considered by many to be an impressive campaign.
  4. Red flags from watchdogs: The Electoral Commission, designed to pick up these exact electoral discrepancies, have been investigating Vote Leave’s behaviour since 2016. Taking months to provide any sort of evidence at the request of the Commission, Vote Leave eventually produced documentation that was largely incomplete and inaccurate. Darren Grimes and David Halsall have been fined £20,000 and reported to Scotland Yard for their illegal coordination in the scandal; while Veterans for Britain has been fined £250. Vote Leave, the leading and successful campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union has been fined £61,000.
  5. Leaving the Google Drive: According to Shahmir Sanni, a week after the Electoral Commission opened their investigation in March 2017, leading figures of the campaign including Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, and Cleo Watson were removed from the Google Drive files linking Aggregate IQ and BeLeave to VoteLeave.
  6. Refusal to cooperate: Dominic Cummings was recently berated for failing to appear before the Digital, Culture Media and Sport committee in the House of Commons. The Electoral Commission watchdog has reported that Vote Leave have failed to put a single candidate forward for interviewing throughout their investigations. The only response the group gave to the Commission has been to belittle and accuse them of faulty work.

WHY WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED:

  1. There are no legal channels to challenge the result of the referendum. Though the results of the referendum are still considered legitimate, a Supreme Court judgement in 2016 noted that any chance of a second referendum or declaring this one void must come from Parliament, not the legal courts.
  2. With the Electoral Commission finally reaching the beginnings of justice, many powerful politicians are still running free. Whether Grimes and Halsall’s fines are to be followed by many others remains unclear, but for now, the real drivers of the operation such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have slipped away unscathed.
  3. The legitimacy of democracy. When Shahmir Sanni risked his professional and personal life to be a whistleblower for the Vote Leave spending and data scandal, he did so in the hopes of protecting British democracy. This electoral fraud challenges the very heart of what it means to be a democracy, which is why the proceeding steps are crucial and should be taken carefully.

Yesterday, Amy Milliken posted a petition to withdraw Article 50 if Vote Leave has in fact broken laws in securing its successful campaign. The petition draws attention to The Lisbon Treaty which demands that decisions (made by European nations in the EU) be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen. While the structure of a referendum should theoretically follow this through, Brexit just hasn’t played out accordingly. As the petition nears 100,000 signatories (70,000 at the time of writing), enough to send this issue for debate in Parliament, one must consider: how many red flags must be raised in order for this issue to be taken seriously?