Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

MPs to question leading Brexiteer Arron Banks over Russian Federation links

Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, made his comments in an interview on Nigel Farage's LBC show on Monday evening in which he denied Russian interference had influenced the result of the Brexit referendum.

The last of these was in November 2016, three days after Mr Banks, Leave.EU's communications director Andy Wigmore and the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage met Mr Trump in NY following his election victory.

"He said he only met the Russian ambassador on one occasion; we now know it was more than that".

According to details of emails reported by the Sunday Times and the Observer, Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore also discussed potential business opportunities in Russian Federation including a proposal involving six gold mines.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May was asked in the House of Commons by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw whether the newspaper revelations about Mr Banks showed it is "now time for a full police inquiry into the relationship between the Kremlin and the leave campaign in the European Union referendum". "The ambassador was probably in a worse state than we were", he said. Lunch with the Russian ambassador?

Leave.EU were not the officially Brexit campaign, having lost out in a battle with the Boris Johnson-backed Vote Leave for designation.

Fellow Leave.EU campaigner and interviewee Andy Wigmore also insisted that the campaign had not received Russian money, replying: "No. There is no evidence".

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Asked if there was any Russian money given to Leave.EU, Mr Wigmore insisted: "No, not one penny or one rouble".

Mr Banks agreed to give evidence to the committee after previously pulling out as he accused MPs of conducting a "witch hunt".

"This whole fake news narrative started to roll from it". It had not been mentioned.

"It was only when Trump won that there had to be a reason why he had won and Brexit happened".

Mr Banks said he first met the Russian ambassador over a "boozy lunch".

The pair promised "fireworks" at their committee appearance, with Mr Banks declaring: "They might be in for a tough time of it".

Leave.EU was fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission earlier this year for breaches of election law in the Brexit referendum. The group operated separately from the official Vote Leave campaign. Mr Banks has said he will appeal against the ruling.

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