Tory minister suggests his own government acted ‘incorrectly’ in Brexit campaign
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab questioned whether his own Government’s Brexit campaign was "correct" today, as he squirmed under questioning about Vote Leave ‘cheating’ in the referendum.
Mr Raab was a board member of Vote Leave, who the Electoral Commission ruled this week had broken the rules by overspending during the campaign.
But he suggested there was a problem with how the Tory Government, under David Cameron , had behaved during the campaign.
Mr Raab served as minister for Civil Liberties during the period in question.
Asked if he believed the watchdog was politically biased, Mr Raab said: "I’m not getting into all of that – we’ve got the rule of law and I respect it, and there’s been a report out in the papers today about whether actually the Government’s campaigning was correct."
Mr Raab was referring to the Independent Commission on Referendums’ report on how such polls should be regulated in future.
The report does raise concerns about the potential for "potentially unlimited spending of public money in favour of one side of the debate before the final four weeks of the campaign."
It suggests a the ban on government communications be extended for the whole referendum period, rather than just the final month.
However, the report also calls for a full white paper on how the government is to proceed to be published before any referendum is called.
And it called for a second referendum to be triggered if the Government significantly diverges from the original plan.
Mr Raab said it was wrong that some people are looking to "discredit" the outcome of the referendum, adding: "I think part of this is last-ditch tactics by some to try and stop Brexit from happening and what actually we all need to be doing is focusing, coming together, to get the best deal with the EU."
Vote Leave has been referred to the Metropolitan Police for breaking spending limits during the referendum.
It comes after a group of 45 MPs warned the British electoral system was in "dire need" of reform.
In a letter, the MPs said the Electoral Commission (EC), the UK’s democracy watchdog, needed overhauling and beefing up in order to guarantee elections in the digital age were free and fair.
One MP said the penalties the EC was currently able to hand out were "laughable" and viewed "simply as the cost of doing business".
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