Could this turn into the scandal of the General Election?
The Tories are facing allegations of corruption and a police investigation could be underway, after Nigel Farage claimed that senior Conservatives had offered Brexit Party figures peerages in order to get them to stand down.
Boris Johnson denied the claims in a Radio 5 Live call-in this morning. But the story continues to spiral.
Brexit Party Ann Widdecombe backed up Farage’s claims, saying she was told she’d be part of the government’s post-election Brexit negotiating team if she stepped aside. The Brexit Party say Peterborough candidate Mike Greene was offered an education role. Farage alleges that eight peerages were offered in total.
The law is very clear on such bribery. Section 107 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 makes it illegal to bribe a candidate to withdraw from an election. It is known as ‘corrupt withdrawal from candidature’ and is a criminal offence.
Sarah Clarke from campaign group Unlock Democracy told LFF:
“It’s a democratic outrage every time a peerage is handed out – whether that’s as a reward from cronyism or loyalty, or as a bribe. Festering corruption in the UK’s political system is not new, we know this happens all the time. After all, an entire legislative chamber is reserved for the beneficiaries of patronage, where party cronies and donors are rewarded with life-long influence over UK law.
“On top of that, the law is clear that it’s a crime to bribe candidates to withdraw from an election. If Nigel Farage is to be taken at his word, then close allies of Boris Johnson at the heart of Downing Street appear to have broken the law. The police urgently need to launch an investigation.”
A spokesperson for the Met Police told LFF:
“The MPS has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 General Election. The MPS Special Enquiry Team is responsible for investigating all such criminal allegations. Both allegations are currently being assessed.”
A Conservative party spokesperson said: “Neither the Conservative party, nor its officials have offered Brexit party candidates jobs or peerages. We don’t do electoral pacts – our pact is with the British people.
The House of Lords and Lords’ Appointments Commission refused to comment.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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