Diary Day 757: there are ways of defeating opponents without a fight, and one is needed now.

Diary Day 757: the silly season was followed by the conference season. While the British public was beguiled into talking about TM the PM’s entrance on stage to music by Abba (who must have been extremely cross) what was really going on? Was there any progress on anything, Brexit-wise? Not really. The EU represented by Mr Barnier is watching and waiting. The UK Parliament is paralysed. The Conservative rabble are irreconcilably split. The Labour rabble are irreconcilably split. I can only make contingency plans in hope that the government collapses.

The memorable moment from the national and international news for me was Donald Tusk giving a measured and dignified rebuff to the dreadful Tory Cabinet minister, Jeremy Hunt. Mr Tusk is a veteran of the anti-Communist revolution in Poland, so he knows as well as anyone that to compare the EU with the Soviet Union, as Hunt did, is a wicked insult.

I am on Donald Tusk’s side. The divide between the Brexiters and the majority (as I firmly believe we are) in this country is ideological. It’s about right and wrong ways to treat people. Differences of passports or legal citizenship are beside the point. If people swept along by the dark nationalist forces that have been unleashed do not understand this, then the gulf between them and people like me is unbridgeable. We have to go back to Moseley and the Brownshirts to see anything comparable. Then, one side had to be defeated, and fortunately was.

There are ways of defeating opponents without a fight, and one is needed now.

I ran a Brexitometer Stall in my local town centre. Of course, it’s a self-selecting group, and the Brexiters mostly passed by in the other side scowling, or shouting abuse. One man (there’s always one) accused us of rigging the thing. But after hanging round for 20 minutes and seeing what was happening he was forced to concede that we hadn’t. It’s not a poll, but it’s a vivid visual depiction of how people are feeling. At times they even queued to have their say, or rather their stickers. The results after four hours were similar to most places: almost everyone thought the Brexit negotiations were going badly, and almost everyone wanted the people, not the politicians, to have a final say on the deal, with an option to stay in the EU.

I have been too tired to write this Diary. Apart from the day job, I am preoccupied with leaflets. They call for the people to have the final say. They ask: “Will Brexit deliver what we were promised, or what you believed it would? Would you like a say on the final deal?” They give reasons why the 2016 vote was a vote for a fantasy. They say that confronted with reality, those promoting Leave have nowhere to go. The words are printed against a picture of Dover cliffs, which seemed apposite.

The leaflets carry a great quote from Brian May, the astrophysicist rock star: “For me… this is an absolute tragedy… Brexit destroys the work of a whole generation that has brought Europe together… I’m upset that a few politicians have managed to throw us under a bus.” So he sees what it’s about. He absolutely sees it.

The leaflets are going through letterboxes. It’s a huge task. We must get a final say. We battle on.

Diary Day 735: Brexit is not chess.

Diary Day 735: it’s after the equinox, it’s pouring with rain, it’s a chilly autumn day. Reminiscent of a scene in a Tarkovsky film, of gloom, the passing of ephemeral things, summer, youth, hopes, rather appropriate to this time in my country’s story.

The past few days’ news is chiefly about the humiliation of Theresa May in Salzburg, and with her the country she leads, much against my will. It was not at the hands of other EU leaders so much as by the iron laws that determine that when fantasy hits reality, fantasy is smashed. It is called disillusionment. I hate to watch the coverage of Theresa May, fighting back emotion, eyes darting here and there. Even though I consider her detestable for what she has done, it is a painful sight.

Unfortunately, disastrously, this woman does not have the stature to lead. So instead of saying okay, country, enough is enough, this is not going to work, let’s rethink, she dug herself further into the hole she is in. When I heard she was making a significant statement at 1.45 pm the following day, hope fluttered briefly that she might see sense. But no. Her phony attempt to emulate Margaret Thatcher with fighting talk was a disappointment. The famous icy death stare just looked ludicrous.

One thing the two have in common is obstinacy. This obstinate woman, who would have done very well as a competent local government councillor, is now on a conveyor belt towards being crushed by forces she cannot control. She was the one who started the conveyor belt moving. She is at the front. We are all on it behind her. And she refuses to pull the brake.

The gossip is that it all fell apart for her because of a flaming row with the DUP, who prop up her weak minority government, when they would not agree to a border within the UK, or was it to a border that infringed the Good Friday Agreement? Both, probably. It will all come out in time when retired politicians start publishing their memoirs.

Arlene Foster of the DUP afterwards issued a statement saying her party would veto any “attempt to undermine the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom”. Their “red line from day one of these negotiations has been that there can be no border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

It fell to Sinn Féin to remind the world that a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. Stay in. It’s the obvious solution.

Anyway, Mrs May apparently made Salzburg much worse by riling the other leaders. She repeated what she had written in an article for FAZ, which went down badly. And she displayed a “take it or leave it” attitude.

Anyway, the Chequers proposals are dead, as informed commentators were saying all along they would be. Donald Tusk said in his closing press conference that the economic proposals would not work, not least because it would risk undermining the Single Market. “The Irish question remains our priority too and for this we need only goodwill — which we feel, the atmosphere was better than two or three weeks ago — but the Irish question needs something more than good intentions. We need tough, clear and precise guarantees. This is why we need more time, but we hope to be ready in October.” That is a reference to the summit on 18th October.

It is President Macron who comes away strengthened. Unlike our feeble government leadership, he has a strategic vision. He has taken the lead as a foe of the populists. He said that Brexit is “the choice of the British people, a choice pushed forward by those who claimed they had easy solutions … Brexit tells us one thing, that those who tell us we can easily do without Europe, that this process will work well, that it’s easy and will make a lot of money, are liars. And we saw this when they left the day after, avoiding the work of managing Brexit.”

This is a sombre moment.

People talk of zugzwang, in a chess metaphor. That is where a player must move, but all available moves make their position worse. But this metaphor assists in the delusion so many British are suffering from. In chess the players start out equal. Inequality develops thanks to the brilliant or mistaken moves each makes. Brexit is not chess. With Brexit, the players started out unequal. The foolish British side has gone on believing in its own exaggerated self-importance. The reality is otherwise. Hence the tragedy of errors.

Time is running out to stop this disaster.

I almost said the news was all about the above, but of course lots more was going on. Mrs May’s hateful regime sneaked out an announcement that the Windrush generation would not get British citizenship. Danske Bank is in big trouble for laundering Russian money through Estonia. There was a march in support of protection for wildlife. The rest of life goes on. It is just that all of it is tainted by the looming thundercloud of Brexit, UK’s terrible mistake.

I want to wake up from it all as a bad dream. It is real.

Diary Day 732, or thereabouts: Sir Vince Cable has reaffirmed our resolve to stop Brexit.

Diary Day 732, or thereabouts: as I was saying, the silly season managed to be both tedious and terrifying. Since mid August, when I posted my last diary entry, I have been preoccupied with health and a holiday. I returned to find the Brexit protagonists are still stepping their steps like the enchanted guests in the faerie kingdom of Lost-Hope, endlessly dancing all night long.

All except the Daily Mail. It has gone quiet on Brexit.

Theresa May’s Chequers deal is not getting approval from anyone, probably because it is a bad plan that can satisfy no one. Michel Barnier declined to bend the principles he has been mandated to apply. President Macron declined to differ from Mr Barnier.

As I write, the EU leaders are in Salzburg at an informal summit meeting. Council President Donald Tusk has said that Mrs May’s proposals on the Irish border and on economic cooperation need to be “reworked”. He has referred to the dwindling amount of time left. He has indicated he will hold an extra summit in November. He has also announced that illegal immigration into the EU has decreased to only 100,000 thanks to practical measures taken, and he has criticised those who use the issue to derive political advantage.

At home there have been many warnings and bad news stories as the impacts of Brexit on businesses become clearer. Among the most memorable was a briefing to the Government from Mark Carney of the Bank of England.

Bernard Jenkin, the MP for Harwich and North Essex and a member of the European Research Group (ERG), accused Ralf Speth, the chief executive of Britain biggest car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, of inventing a claim that a hard Brexit would cost the company £1.2bn a year and make it unprofitable. If I wanted to know about the effect of Brexit on a major motor manufacturing business, and I do, would I ask Bernard Jenkin? No, I think I’d ask Ralf Speth.

It is frustrating that so many businesses stand to lose so much from Brexit and yet do not speak out, instead leaving ordinary individuals to fight for what is in their interests. It is throughly unfair actually.

I have made a small donation in support of the Good Law Project’s crowdfunded claim against the Electoral Commission seeking a ruling that the shadowy Constitutional Research Council (CRC) should have declared as its own expenditure the payment for an advertisement placed in the Metro newspaper during the 2016 referendum.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) declared the Metro ad as its own expenditure, which was odd, because the ad appeared on the British mainland in a newspaper that DUP voters don’t read. The DUP had no apparent reason to place that ad – unless to take advantage of Northern Irish election and referendum laws, which allow political donors secrecy. Mainland laws require donations above £7,500 to be declared.

The Electoral Commission treated the money as part of a sum of £435,000 which the DUP had declared as a donation received, while keeping the source secret. Then a BBC investigation found out that the ad had been placed by the chairman of the CRC, who lives in Scotland. The case against the Electoral Commission is that it erred in treating the payment as the DUP’s; it should treat the payment as in reality the CRC’s own campaign expenditure. If that is correct, the CRC will have to disclose where the money came from. That could be extremely interesting.

I have attended the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton at which the party leader Sir Vince Cable has reaffirmed our resolve to stop Brexit. People who care should join us.

Diary Day 695: the silly season this year is simultaneously tedious and terrifying.

Diary Day 695: I’ve been suffering from Brexit fatigue. I am bored and horrified by the Daily Express invariably using CAPITAL LETTERS to spin disinformation to its trusting readership; by the flow of bile from the fascist Daily Mail; by the flow of content from the keyboards of Brexit fanatics on social media. They are immune to facts or reason. It’s a mantra. They are a cult.

I would not mind if they just set up a community in some quiet corner and restricted their self-harm to themselves. But the aggression of it is horrifying, the corralling of us all to be part of it, with the collateral damage to the world order, civilised values and to incalculable numbers of decent people.

Aggressive corralling has been a British speciality for centuries, which is how we ended up with an empire. Do Brexiters think the empire is coming back? Is there no delusion too far?

Mrs May is still saying no deal is better than a bad deal. A letter from her to Conservative Party members used that very phrase.

Apparently Mrs May’s feelings are hurt because the Irish Government continues to prioritise peace in the Brexit talks. Does she care about the feelings of the 48% of those who voted in 2016 whom she is alternately ignoring, insulting and ordering to fall into line behind her? Or of the victims of her policies?

No way are we falling into line behind this incompetent, heartless bunch of Tory hacks.

Boris Johnson wrote some disparaging remarks about burkhas, which was taken by many racists and xenophobes as permission to go out and harass Moslem women. Clever and brave to pick on a vulnerable group to mock. All part of dog-whistle politics to get the Tory membership on his side.

Johnson’s article came soon after he had met the vile Steve Bannon. The latter perhaps gave him a few tips. Bannon has been roaming about in Europe. He is setting up a disinformation outlet and an organisation of white supremacists that aims apparently to re-establish hegemony wherever it can. He doesn’t look at all well.

When I last wrote in this diary, Theresa May was popping over to the Côte D’Azur to meet President Macron. Not too clear what the purpose was, and no news of how the meeting went. But no European leader is more pro EU or closer to Mr Barnier than Mr Macron, so I doubt whether a division will have emerged between France and the other EU member states, if that was Mrs May’s objective.

A letter to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ Brexit Working Group was leaked to the BBC. In it the authors referred to 32 Law Enforcement and Security Measures (LENS) used on a daily basis in operational policing, developed over the last 40 years, which “have saved many lives”. They referred to Mr Barnier’s Vienna speech on 19th June in which he doubted whether the UK Government would be able to negotiate access to EU databases an instruments. (The problem, as I recall it, is the PM’s red line over ECJ jurisdiction.) They urged the Government to avoid a no deal Brexit. But the wilfully deaf and stubborn Theresa May will plough on regardless. Whatever her chosen electorate desires. Ghanaian shoe manufacturing.

A new poll found that Britain would now back continued membership of the EU by 53% to 47%. Referring to the poll in a speech in Bristol, Vince Cable said the “centre of gravity” was shifting towards a People’s Vote on the final deal. I am sure he is correct, though the outcome would be nail bitingly in doubt because the propensity of young people to vote is lower than that of older people.

The silly season this year is simultaneously tedious and terrifying.

Diary Day 686: the chess pieces can go only where the rules allow.

Diary Day 686: the Electoral Commission dismissed for lack of evidence a complaint from Vote Leave cheerleader Priti Patel MP against Britain Stronger in Europe (BSIE), the official Remain campaign.

The complaint was a plain case of whataboutery and doubtless had the effect of distracting true Brexit believers from their side’s recent whopping fines and referral to the police by the Electoral Commission.

Mr Barnier wrote an article published in 20 European newspapers, which said that the UK’s proposals for future trade would pose a threat to the EU.

He came to London, where he said: “The EU cannot — and will not — delegate the application of its customs policy and rules, VAT and excise duty collection to a non-member, who would not be subject to the EU’s governance structures.”

“Any customs arrangements or customs union — and I have always said that the EU is open to a customs union — must respect this principle.”

Leonid Bershidsky wrote for Bloomberg comparing Theresa May with his young daughter learning chess, who was frustrated that each piece could only make limited moves and failed to factor in the other player’s moves.

“From outside the UK… it simply looks as though May refuses to recognize the EU’s clearly stated red lines, considering them negotiable, though no one on the EU side has ever suggested that they might be and no one considering the EU’s position would imagine them to be.”

In Mr Bershidsky’s opinion, a new referendum is a way out of this loop for Mrs May, and involves no loss of face. “She has repeatedly gone out of her comfort zone to try for the impossible. But the chess pieces can go only where the rules allow.”

Mrs May is interrupting her holiday to have talks with Emmanuel Macron at France’s presidential residence on the Côte d’Azur.

Diary Day 682: the Facebook dark ads used by Vote Leave were racist, deceitful and worst of all, anonymous – until now.

Diary Day 682: more lost time. A whole week. Every day was hot, dry and dusty. Even the weather was un-British in this most un-British of times, until the weekend. A weekend of cool, life-giving rain. But after two months of drought there is no grazing, farmers are using hay meant for winter feed to sustain their animals and crops have already failed. I worry about inadequate future food supplies. Must sow some more veg.

How has wildlife been coping? Badly I suspect. Not much to eat. As for water, we thoughtless people have filled in so many ponds. All life needs water.

Yesterday the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS) published an 89-page interim report on disinformation and ‘fake news’. It is downloadable as a PDF file free from the Parliament website. Anyone who still thinks this is unimportant needs a brain transplant. The summary says this:

“There are many potential threats to our democracy and our values. One such threat arises from what has been coined ‘fake news’, created for profit or other gain, disseminated through state-sponsored programmes, or spread through the deliberate distortion of facts, by groups with a particular agenda, including the desire to affect political elections.

“Such has been the impact of this agenda, the focus of our inquiry moved from understanding the phenomenon of ‘fake news’, distributed largely through social media, to issues concerning the very future of democracy. Arguably, more invasive than obviously false information is the relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to influence their voting plans and their behaviour. We are faced with a crisis concerning the use of data, the manipulation of our data, and the targeting of pernicious views. In particular, we heard evidence of Russian state-sponsored attempts to influence elections in the US and the UK through social media, of the efforts of private companies to do the same, and of law-breaking by certain Leave campaign groups in the UK’s EU Referendum in their use of social media.

“In this rapidly changing digital world, our existing legal framework is no longer fit for purpose. This is very much an interim Report, following an extensive inquiry. A further, substantive Report will follow in the autumn of 2018. We have highlighted significant concerns, following recent revelations regarding, in particular, political manipulation and set we out areas where urgent action needs to be taken by the Government and other regulatory agencies to build resilience against misinformation and disinformation into our democratic system. Our democracy is at risk, and now is the time to act, to protect our shared values and the integrity of our democratic institutions.”

It ends with 53 paragraphs of conclusions and recommendations which I have yet to wade through.

At nearly the same time, someone (the DCMS Committee I think, having got them from Facebook) published the Facebook dark ads used by Vote Leave. They were racist, deceitful and worst of all, anonymous – until now. And they were run before and even the day after Jo Cox’s murder. We now know these were psyops for which, or the targeting of which, Vote Leave paid around half its budget, including the illegal overspend, to the Canadian company Aggregate IQ, part of the Cambridge Analytica operation.

This is deep.

The People’s Vote coalition, or umbrella group, ramped up its campaign. Endorsements came from Gary Lineker, and a good video went out on social media with clips of pro-Leave campaigners claiming how easy it would be. They are denying they ever said it now.

Lest we forget, eh, boys and girls?

The delightful Jacob Rees-Mogg, given a grilling for once, said (or should I say let slip) something I am prepared to entertain as possibly correct – that the benefits of Brexit would not be felt for 50 years. Possibly this sheds light on the fact that his investment management firm has opened a second fund based in the Republic of Ireland. It’s so much easier doing business in the EU, eh?

I cannot resist sarcasm at the moment, as my country goes quite rapidly down the toilet pan, taking the hopes and self-respect of millions with it. And Brexit is voluntary!

Nathalie Loiseau, the country’s European affairs minister, said on Thursday France and other member states still did not want Britain to leave the bloc.

“We have always said, always, that the door would remain open and that we were not the ones who wanted to diverge from the United Kingdom,” Ms Loiseau told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “It was the British people who decided to leave the European Union.”

I disagree with that part. Only some of them! And it was only advisory.

Asked whether the UK could stay in on the same terms it had now, Ms Loiseau replied: “Sure, of course. [Like] every single member state of the European Union, we have one conviction, which is that the best possible status is being a member, the most profitable status.”

A voice of sanity in this insane corner of the world.

It emerged that Tory ministers are considering stockpiling medicines and food, and drawing up plans to send in the Army.

Dr Jeanette Dickson, of the Royal College of Radiologists, explained why there is a problem with radioactive medical isotopes, used to treat cancer patients. They are all imported. She said: “These medicines are like a burning fuse.” Their radioactivity rapidly dwindles. So delays at the border are a bad thing, even if we are still allowed to buy the radioactive materials after crashing out of Euratom.

I stumbled upon an article published earlier this month called “Brexit Meets Gravity” by Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for economics for, among other things, his work on international trade patterns. He briskly took apart the Brexit supporters’ case on free trade agreements with the USA and perhaps others to replace the EU: “Now, many of the arguments for Brexit were lies pure and simple. But their claims about trade, both before and after the vote, may arguably be seen as misunderstandings rather than sheer dishonesty.

“In the world according to Brexiteers, Britain needn’t lose much by leaving the EU, because it can still negotiate a free trade agreement with the rest of Europe, or, at worst, face the low tariffs the EU imposes on other non-EU economies. Meanwhile, Britain can negotiate better trade deals elsewhere, especially the US, that will make up for any losses on the EU side.

“What’s wrong with this story? The first thing to understand is that the EU is not a free trade agreement like NAFTA; it’s a customs union, which is substantially stronger and more favorable to trade.”

And he explains how the problem for businesses is not so much tariffs, as friction. There have to be customs inspections to ensure that goods really are from the other country in the free trade agreement. And that brings in the need for rules about how big a proportion of the goods qualifies as being from the other country and not a third country. Which generates more paperwork and friction.

He then goes on to debunk the myth that a customs union with the USA would work. The first problem is the asymmetry in size which would mean terms were dictated by the US. The second is gravity. “One of the best-established relationships in economics is the so-called gravity equation for trade between any two countries, which says that the amount of trade depends positively on the size of the two countries’ economies but negatively on the distance between them.”

He illustrates it, appropriately, with a graph of UK trade. Lots with France, Germany, Spain. Not much with Japan.

The US is much further away than the EU member states, so volume of trade with the US is going to be smaller than with the EU.

This point was made by economists at the LSE and elsewhere in the UK years ago, but not enough people listened. In particular, the Brexit camp of boneheads – if that is what they were rather than simply crooks, for surely there is no third option – did not.

In other news, the delightful Arron Banks was exposed by a report from Channel 4 News to the effect that a payment he had made to a Government minister of Lesotho shortly before some decision about diamond mining was allegedly a bribe. The police over there are very, very interested, apparently.

Kate Hoey lost a vote of no confidence by Labour Party delegates in her Vauxhall constituency, a vote which has opened up a can of worms about Momentum and a national deselection programme. All voted in favour except three abstentions.

It is raining again.

Diary Day 674: where does Arron Banks’s money really come from?

Diary Day 674: more lost time. Critics got their claws into Vince Cable and Tim Farron, the current and former leaders of the Lib Dems, who had not voted because they were absent. They were accused of not caring enough about Brexit.

It is one thing to care about it and another to spend your every waking hour on it. Labour had said they would abstain, meaning a certain enormous majority for the Government. So the whip permitted Vince and Tim to attend other engagements. Then Labour didn’t abstain. So the two Lib Dems were wrong-footed. The whip Alastair Carmichael apologised for having let this happen. Lib Dem activists were dismayed, opponents gleeful. But the Government would still have won the votes, thanks to Labour rebels and absentees.

More significant was what happened on Tuesday. Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson tweeted that a Conservative MP voted who had been paired with her. By Parliamentary convention that meant he was supposed not to vote while she was away on maternity leave. It later emerged that the Conservative whip had actually instructed MPs to ignore pairing arrangements. This was cheating. There were calls for the whip to resign, but he didn’t. So a parliamentary convention dies.

This is the end of trust and honour between MPs, and a sign of the desperation Theresa May’s faction of the Conservatives is in.

The shenanigans at Westminster were a sideshow though, because the EU will not accept the Government’s latest proposals. At a press conference after a meeting of the 27 other member states on Friday, Michel Barnier said that they were largely unworkable. He criticised the practical problems and complexity of the proposed facilitated customs arrangements but more fundamentally questioned whether delegating the collection of customs taxes to a state that was not a member of the EU was legally and juridically possible.

It is an important point. Taxes and impositions are in general not enforceable in overseas jurisdictions. Taxes are only enforceable across the EU because of its special shared legal regime. But the UK Government apparently consists of dimwits who have missed this.

This is why for instance a graduate tax would not be enforceable against graduates who went overseas (which many graduates, including most of the large numbers of foreign students at UK universities, do) and thus would not be an effective way of replacing the abolition of tuition fees. But I digress.

On Wednesday Theresa May appeared before the House of Commons Liaison Committee and waffled. She repeatedly refused to confirm that the Government would make it clear to the wider public what they would need to prepare for in the event of leaving the EU without a deal.

All this overshadowed that on Tuesday the Electoral Commission published the conclusions of its investigation into the campaign spending of Vote Leave and a number of other campaigners, and found that BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave, which exceeded its legal spending limit of £7 million by almost £500,000. Vote Leave also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report.

The Commission fined Vote Leave £61,000. Darren Grimes, the founder of BeLeave campaign group, was fined £20,000. The Commission referred Mr David Halsall, the responsible person for Vote Leave, and Mr Grimes to the Metropolitan Police in relation to false declarations of campaign spending. It has shared its investigation files with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offences which lie outside the Commission’s regulatory remit.

Bob Posner of the Electoral Commission said: “Vote Leave has resisted our investigation from the start, including contesting our right as the statutory regulator to open the investigation. It has refused to cooperate, refused our requests to put forward a representative for interview, and forced us to use our legal powers to compel it to provide evidence. Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial, and can now be seen in our report.”

This provoked a flurry of whataboutery in social media and a torrent of criticisms of the BBC which seemed not to understand that the Commission is actually the regulator, and that this was not just an opinion but a binding ruling.

Channel 4 News published details of evidence contained in an affidavit by a former business partner of Arron Banks, filed in the South African High Court in Kimberley in February 2018 in opposition to a civil claim by Mr Banks’ diamond company, called Distribution Rocks, brought against a partner called Supermix for money allegedly owed.

The written evidence on behalf of Supermix states: “I was finally made aware in October [2015] that in truth, Banks had been dealing with Russians who contemplated investing in the mines…. I was informed by Banks that he had travelled to Russia and discussed with them the diamond opportunities as well as gold mining opportunities in Russia. He further indicated that he would be meeting with the Russians again during November [2015].”

The evidence also states that Mr Banks raised money from investors for the mines, but did not actually use the money for the mines. “Throughout the early part of 2015 Arron Banks was promising the imminent arrival of these funds. Construction of operation on the mine sites continued in expectation of the funds, however these funds were not forthcoming.”

The evidence also states that Mr Banks was making preparations to issue a bond to raise money; this was in late 2014 and early 2015. Channel 4 News has seen a prospectus, though the bond did not go ahead.

Damian Collins MP, the Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, commented: “The papers suggest that he was actively seeking investment with the Russians. He was actively seeking to do deals to support his mining interests in South Africa.

“This all happened before his famous ‘boozy lunch’ with the Russian ambassador. So the Russians knew that Arron Banks needed money and he was looking to them for it…

“There is also this issue of the bond he sought to raise. Now some people would say that if he is so rich that he can afford to spend millions of pounds on Brexit, why does he have to go running around the world trying to raise money through a bond issue to support his mining interests? So where does Arron Banks’s money really come from?

“…He has clearly got to go to finance his businesses from outside, so where did the money come from that enabled him to spend so much money on Brexit? And what is the full extent of his contact with the Russians during this time to discuss business opportunities, and what came of them?”

Where and what indeed.