The billionaire financier known as ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ is facing a possible investigation into nearly £3 million that his foundation channelled into a campaign aimed at bringing down Boris Johnson.
Tories have called for an urgent Electoral Commission probe into George Soros’s American organisation after The Mail on Sunday discovered that it funnelled money into a campaign trying to block Brexit at the ballot box.
His New York-based Open Society Foundation sent the money to the pro-EU Best for Britain group via a London outpost, circumventing a ban on foreign donations to political organisations.
Best for Britain (BfB) has designed a website telling people how to vote tactically for Remain-backing candidates, which, if successful, would wipe out Mr Johnson’s hopes of a majority.
The development comes after Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru formed a ‘Unite To Remain’ pact not to stand against each other in 60 seats, to give the best chance of a Remain candidate getting in.
BfB describes itself as a ‘fellow traveller’ with the alliance, which is expected to utilise its data.
Hungarian-born Mr Soros helped to build his fortune by betting against sterling on Black Wednesday in 1992, causing panic in John Major’s Government and earning him his notoriety.
He says that his love for Britain led him to campaign against the ‘tragic mistake’ of leaving the EU. He said recently that the funds he has given for anti-Brexit activity were ‘not used for partisan or electoral purposes. They were used to educate the British public’.
Since 2017, BfB has received £2.7 million from Mr Soros’s foundation. The sums have been revealed in the accounts of the foundation’s London branch, which shares an office building in Westminster with other anti-Brexit organisations, including Open Britain and the European Movement.
Both of these groups have played a critical role in the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum.
Facebook looks set to be a key battleground in the Election, and BfB has invested heavily in advertising on the platform, spending a total of £613,000 since October 2018. In the past 30 days alone, BfB has spent £137,000 on 165 different sponsored adverts.
Nearly one in four voters say they intend to vote tactically this Election – equivalent to almost 7.8 million votes, many in key marginals.
BfB’s tactical voting tool, GetVoting.org, predicts that if 30 per cent of pro-Remain voters use their vote in this way, it will prevent the Conservatives winning a majority, based on seat-by-seat analysis of 46,000 people across the UK.
Unite To Remain, headed by Heidi Allen, the former Tory MP turned Liberal Democrat, claims that at least 44 of the 60 seats are ‘highly winnable’ if tactical voting is used.
In the December 12 Election, the Lib Dems will stand unopposed by the other two parties in the pact in 43 areas, the Greens in ten and Plaid Cymru in seven. Ms Allen said the cross-party arrangement was ‘unprecedented in modern British political history’.
Last night, Andrew Percy, who is standing for re-election for the Tories in Brigg and Goole, said: ‘I am calling on the Electoral Commission to urgently investigate whether a breach of spending rules has taken place, and to clarify how Best for Britain is spending these overseas millions.
‘The rules are clear: foreign donations on this scale cannot be spent on an election campaign.
‘We need a fair and level playing field – and that means ensuring that hardcore groups seeking to thwart the democratic will of the British people don’t act as a route for overseas money to influence elections in this country.’
The BfB said last night: ‘Our financial statements are appropriately filed and make clear we have received money from the Open Society Foundation.
‘During regulated periods such as elections, we use permissible UK donations for regulated campaign activity to comply with Electoral Commission rules.
‘No money from foreign donations is used to fund this. We look forward to the Electoral Commission confirming this is the case.
‘Given the damage a Johnson government and a hard Brexit would inflict on the country, we have received a large number of donations from all over Britain.’
via Daily Mail