Tories quietly publish ‘dangerous’ plan to neuter elections watchdog and undermine its independence

The proposals had been branded ‘extremely dangerous’ by the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life when they were first suggested.

Boris Johnson walking up a set of stairs smiling

With Boris Johnson’s shameful premiership coming to an end in a few weeks, the Tories have quietly published proposals to neuter the country’s elections watchdog and to further undermine its independence.

New draft proposals set out by the government were published on Monday, entitled ‘Draft Electoral Commission Strategy and Policy Statement’. Under the plans, the elections watchdog would be stripped of its power to bring its own criminal prosecutions for breaches of election law.

And although the government has insisted it doesn’t wish to undermine the commission’s independence, which is so crucial to its work, the draft proposals state that the Commission should “support the government’s delivery of legitimate executive priorities”.

The proposals had been branded ‘extremely dangerous’ by the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life when they were first suggested.

The latest proposals are part of a concerted campaign by the government to take control of the Electoral Commission. In April, the government won a vote to take control of the Electoral Commission in what was described as a dark day for our democracy.

The Elections Bill, gave ministers new powers over the Electoral Commission, undermining its independence by allowing government ministers to determine its remit as well as packing the Commission’s Parliamentary overseer with government appointments.

Reacting to the latest proposals, Peter Stefanovic wrote on Twitter: “Johnson’s government has quietly published details of an “election power grab” to neuter UK’s elections watchdog & undermine its independence just months after Electoral Commission found Party had broken electoral law over funding of his flat refurbishment.”

Campaign group Best for Britain tweeted: “The Elections Act represents one of the most egregious entries in Boris Johnson’s extensive back catalogue of undermining democracy & accountability in the UK. Labour must commit to reversing this authoritarian power grab.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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