Mr Farage has said that eight people in his party were approached by the Conservatives and told that they would be given positions in the House of Lords if they pledged to not challenge Tory-held seats in the upcoming December 12 general election. Scotland Yard has since announced that it is launching an investigation into at least two of those eight allegations.
Even Boris Johnson’s Chief Strategic Adviser Sir Edward Lister is calling our candidates and offering them jobs if they withdraw. The system is corrupt and broken. #ChangePoliticsForGood— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) 14 November 2019
If Mr Farage were to be proven right, then it would leave senior Conservative MPs open to the possibility of police action on the grounds of unlawful bribery. So far, the Prime Minister has admitted that there were “conversations” between senior Tory party members and the Brexit Party, but flatly denied that any peerage had been offered, saying that it was “just not the way we [the Tories] operate.”
Senior Conservative party MP Michael Gove on Saturday slammed Farage’s accusations, calling them “nonsensical.”
“The only pact of which I’m aware, the only arrangement of which I’m aware, is the one whereby Jeremy Corbyn has said he would assent to Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence,” said Mr Gove on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
The development came hot on the heels of former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer’s letter to the Metropolitan Police and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) urging them to look into what he described as “exceptionally serious allegations.”
“I believe these allegations raise serious questions about the integrity of the upcoming general election, and particularly whether senior individuals at CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] or No10 have breached two sections of the Representation of the People Act 1983,” Mr Falconer wrote.
“These are exceptionally serious allegations which the DPP must, in accordance with his statutory duty, fully investigate as a matter of urgency. In addition, in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes and this election, it is crucial that the Metropolitan Police also examine these accusations,” He added.
Subsequently, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson issued a statement saying that, “The MPS has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 general election. The MPS special enquiry team is responsible for investigating all such criminal allegations. Both allegations are currently being assessed.”
In one of the most high-profile cases, former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, who is now a senior Brexit Party candidate, claimed that she was offered a senior negotiating role in the next phase of the Brexit talks if she agreed not to challenge any Tory seats.
However, Mr Gove disputed that account on the Today Programme, saying that, “this is the first I’ve heard about it and of course I think it’s only right that things that people like Ann say are considered appropriately. But I say something else, one of the things that we spelt out during the attempt to get the EU Withdrawal Bill through is that when we move on to the next stage of our relationship with the European Union, we’ll be consulting people from all parties.”
Yet, Lord Falconer also appeared on the show on Saturday, claiming that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that members of the Brexit Party were offered advantageous positions, including peerage, if they agreed to stand aside in the upcoming election.
“I've seen evidence from Ann Widdecombe that is a film in which first she says first of all that somebody from Number 10, not Boris Johnson, not Sir Edward Lister, not Dominic Cummings, first of all pushed her not to stand with, quote, ‘moral arguments’, then came back and pushed her not to stand on the basis that she be given a place in the negotiating team. The law is that if somebody corruptly induces or procures another person to withdraw from being a candidate at an election, that is both a crime and a corrupt practice at an election, which can lead an election to be set aside,” Lord Falconer said.