The UK’s Conservative Party has called for an urgent inquiry into billionaire financier George Soros’ Open Society Foundation injecting hefty sums into a campaign to oust Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“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”, Andrew Percy, who is standing for re-election for the Tories in the Brigg and Goole constituency, said.
He referred to “clear” rules stipulating that “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,” Percy added.
This comes after the Daily Mail reported earlier on Sunday that the Open Society Foundation funnelled almost £3 million ($3.8 million) into the pro-EU Best for Britain (BfB) group’s campaign aimed at blocking Brexit “at the ballot box”.
The BfB reportedly received the money via a London outpost, circumventing a ban on foreign donations to political organisations.
The group developed a special website, where the BfB explained how people could vote tactically for Remain-backing candidates in order to prevent Johnson obtaining an overwhelming majority during the upcoming general election.
BfB Claims It Uses ‘Permissible UK Donations’
On Saturday, the BfB said that its financial statements are “appropriately filed and make clear we have received money from the Open Society Foundation”.
The group claimed that it uses “permissible UK donations for regulated campaign activity to comply with Electoral Commission rules” during “regulated periods such as elections”.
“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”, the BfB added.
The statement comes a few days after Soros told The Guardian that his huge contributions “were not used for partisan or electoral purposes”.
“They were used to educate the British public”, Soros argued, brushing off concerns expressed by numerous politicians that his Open Society Foundations were engaging in meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.”
“Brexit is a process of disintegration that hurts both sides. It hurts Britain more on a pro rata basis and Europe more in absolute terms. Most importantly, European values can be better defended if the two of them are united,” Soros asserted.
He made headlines ahead of the Brexit vote in 2016 when he warned that a drive to leave the bloc might cause a Europe-wide economic meltdown and make the EU’s disintegration “practically unavoidable.”
Two years later, Soros garnered controversy in the UK after making a £400,000 ($510,000) donation to the BfB. Pro-Brexiteers slammed the donation as a “secret plot” and an attempt to stage a “coup…against the democratic will of the people.”