Electoral Commission Investigation: Vote Leave: 17th July 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
Mr Speaker, it will not have escaped your notice, and I know that it will not have escaped the Minister’s notice, that one of the most respected Members of this House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), has, in condemning what has occurred in the leave campaign, gone so far as to call for a re-running of the referendum. These are serious matters. They go to the heart of government and, of course, to the heart of democracy and the trust that people must have in the democratic process. There are concerns not only about the overspend, but about the source of the money. The evidence is mounting. It is clearly there that another country—let us be honest, it is Russia—exercised its influence to undermine this country’s democracy and indeed this country’s security as it has a long history of doing. I say to the Minister that this is not a party political matter. It is nothing to do with delivering Brexit; it is about democracy. Can she give us an assurance that this Government will take these very important matters extremely seriously and act now on them?

Chloe Smith
I absolutely can give the assurance that the Government take these matters extremely seriously. That is the very point here. The very point here is that we have a precious democracy that demands our protection, and that is what we do by having an Electoral Commission, an independent regulator, that can make such investigations, publish them, expose the points of that investigation to scrutiny, and be held accountable in its turn by Parliament. ​Then it is for Parliament to consider whether, in the round, amendments might need to be made to the rules against which the regulator does that. That is the landscape that we are looking at here.