In Brief

‘Bad boy of Brexit’ Arron Banks ‘would now vote Remain’

Amid claims he misled MPs, the Leave.EU donor suggests it would have been better to ‘not unleash these demons’ created by Brexit

One of the leading figures behind Britain’s decision to leave the EU now says he would vote for the UK to remain, claiming it would have been better to “not unleash these demons” created by Brexit.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Arron Banks, who last week was revealed to be under investigation by the National Crime Agency over an £8 million donation to the unofficial Leave.EU campaign, attacked the “disgraceful behaviour” of the government and suggested ministers in the “sewer” of British politics could not be trusted to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum.

The surprise admission comes after comments made to The Sunday Times in which he said: “I think if I had my time again, I would vote for remain based on the fact that our politicians are just not up for the job. We have ended up in the situation where the Tories have completely caved Brexit.”

Challenged by Marr to explain where the money for his Brexit campaign came from, the millionaire businessman and self-style “bad boy of Brexit” again denied it came from overseas, saying instead it originated from his own UK businesses.

“There was no Russian money and no interference of any type. I want to be absolutely clear about that”, he said.

Foreign donations to political campaigns are banned under UK law.

The Sunday Times reports that the embattled Brexit donor, “faces a second inquiry into his affairs after the [Financial Conduct Authority] financial watchdog contacted him last week asking him to disclose his bank statements”.

As the walls close in around him, The Observer has revealed Banks may also have misled parliament over links between his pro-Brexit campaign and his insurance business during the EU referendum.

Hundreds of internal emails leaked by former employees of Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to the paper show that despite categorical denials by Banks to MPs, insurance staff worked on the Leave.EU campaign from their company offices, although “any work carried out in the months before the referendum should have been declared under electoral law”.

In a separate investigation, Open Democracy also published evidence that suggests a significant crossover between Banks’s insurance and political staff during the campaign.

The BBC, meanwhile, has come under fire for booking a figure currently the subject of a criminal investigation.

In doing so, the anti-Brexit New European says the broadcaster “allowed the businessman and political donor the opportunity to respond to the allegations on its biggest Sunday political programme”.

Remain-supporting MPs from all the main parties said the latest revelations raised serious questions over how the referendum had been won, and strengthened the case for another public vote.

The Tory MP Phillip Lee, said: “The more we hear about the risks of Brexit and the way it was sold to the public by people who had little or no interest in the truth, or following rules, the stronger the case becomes for suspending or revoking Article 50 until all of these irregularities are cleared up.”

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