Time the DUP came clean about the dodgy Brexit donation
In 2016, an organisation called the Constitutional Research Council gave a £425,000 donation to the DUP in Northern Ireland.
Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows but there was something fishy about this donation.
- For a start, the bulk of this money was not used by the DUP in Northern Ireland. It was used to influence the Brexit vote on the mainland. It was used to fund a widely seen Leave.EU advertisement in the Metro newspaper.
- The money was paid to the DUP instead of directly to Leave.EU because at the time the rules for political donations in Northern Ireland allowed anonymity.
- The only person who admits to being part of the Constitutional Research Council is an influential Scottish Conservative official named Richard Cook.
- Richard Cook has close links to many senior Tories including David Cameron, Baroness Warsi and Jackson Carlaw.
- The relationship between the DUP, the Tories and Brexit has also been in the limelight recently. The prime minister just paid the DUP a 1.5 billion pound bung in order to secure the parliamentary majority needed to deliver a hard Brexit.
- So, without diving too deeply into conspiracy land, it is clear that the Tory party and the DUP have been engaging in dubious financial dealings in order to secure a Brexit that most experts think will be disastrous for the UK.
- If that wasn’t dodgy enough, the lack of transparency opens up bigger questions. The most obvious of these are, where did the money actually come from and, what do the people who donated the money have to hide?
- The reason that donations in Northern Ireland could be made anonymously(the rule has recently been changed) was due to the terror situation there. In the past donating to a political party could get you shot. However, those who donated this Brexit money have abused that rule. They did so in order to keep their identities secret when donations of this magnitude destined for Leave.UK should have been transparent.
- The leave victory was a narrow one that will have grave consequences for the UK’s standing in the world. An expensive ad in a widely dispersed free newspaper could have swung a narrow vote.
- This has led to much speculation as Richard Cook has been linked to some interesting individuals and organisations.
- The most interesting of these links is to a Saudi Prince and the Saudi intelligence services.
- This means that it is feasible that there could have been foreign interference in the Brexit referendum. Saudi money could have been channelled to the DUP via a high ranking Tory in order to fund Brexit.
- If this were true it would look particularly bad in the context of the UK government’s continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia. It would look even worse in the context of the government’s refusal to publish its report into the countries that fund terrorism. A report which is rumoured to strongly implicate Saudi Arabia.
- Another key question raised by this saga is, did the DUP know where this money came from? DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson claims he had no obligation to find out the source of the money. However, this is most likely false as even in Northern Ireland, there are strict rules as to who can donate, even if they are entitled to anonymity.
- All of this could be cleared up quickly if the DUP or Richard Cook were to come clean about the donation.
- In light of the lack of transparency, it seems reasonable for people to demand answers given the importance of the Brexit vote.
- At the less serious end of the wrongdoing scale, some Tories took advantage of a legal loophole in order to influence the Brexit vote. At the more severe end, a foreign power, some Tory officials and the DUP colluded to influence the results of the referendum.
- Whatever the scenario it doesn’t look great for those involved. Hopefully, for the sake of democracy, further digging will force them to release the truth.
You can help autonomyscotland by commenting, sharing the blogs and joining our newsletter.