🔥Andy Wigmore was communications director for the Leave.EU campaign and is one of the “Brex Pistols” who met with Donald Trump for that infamous gold elevator photo. A close associate of Arron Banks, he has been a director of various business entities created by Banks, including Southern Rock Insurance.
Wigmore likes to present himself and other Brexit campaigners as “patriots“. Yet while he was pushing the supposedly “patriotic” Brexit project, Wigmore was a diplomat for the government of Belize, of which he is a citizen. As a diplomat promoting trade and investment at the Belize High Commission in London, he was working to advance Belizean business interests. Indeed, Wigmore has enthused about how “Brexit will be excellent for Belize” – a country that has been described as “Central America’s premier destinations for offshore company formations opportunities” and as “struggling with an onslaught of drug trafficking“.
In one profile, Wigmore is described as “an outsider…desperate to shock, annoy and irritate”. An acquaintance is quoted saying: “He loves being one of the gang but he is happy to let Nigel and Arron take most of the limelight. He sees himself as the guy behind the scenes pulling the strings. And, to be fair to him, he is very good at it. That is what makes him a dangerous individual.”
Wigmore is an experienced media operative, but his flair for publicity stunts has sometimes backfired. For example, there was, in Banks’ words, a “bit of a shit-storm” after “Wiggy posted a Remembrance Sunday-themed tweet suggesting that voting for Brexit would honour Britain’s war dead”. Richard Tice had apparently not been consulted and was very cross, saying it was a “bit fucking stupid”.
In his book, Arron Banks gives various other tidbits about Wigmore, describing, for instance, the time when “Wiggy” gave him a substance that first made him vomit, and then gave him a sense of “supreme confidence and wellbeing”.
Wigmore’s tendency to boast has, however, helped shed some light on what went on behind the scenes of the Brexit campaign. He told the Observer, for instance, that the shared goals and “longstanding friendship” between Nigel Farage and the Mercer family led Robert Mercer to offer his help – for free – to Leave.EU.
Wigmore also revealed that Mercer introduced Farage and Leave.EU to Cambridge Analytica, the company that used its own database and voter information collected from Facebook to help elect Donald Trump. Wigmore said: “They were happy to help. Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Mercer introduced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this company we think may be useful to you’. What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information.” Wigmore went on to describe the level of access to people’s personal Facebook data that the campaign was able to use as “creepy”.
Despite this, Leave.EU did not declare any spending on or in-kind support from Cambridge Analytica to the Electoral Commission, or specify any spending on AI or social media “botnets“. Perhaps forgetting this, Wigmore tweeted in August 2017:
“We had our own bots in Bristol and we used AI to target specific groups – it worked because we knew who to hit.” He later attempted to claim that this statement was “sarcasm”.
The Electoral Commission is continuing to investigate Leave.EU’s spending return, after concluding that there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences under the law may have occurred”. It has also reopened its investigation into the “true sources” of donations and loans made to Leave.EU.
Wigmore’s career as a Belizean diplomat hit a bump in the road after the photo with Trump was published. The British Foreign Office and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are said to have been particularly annoyed by Trump’s suggestion that Farage is appointed UK ambassador to Washington. Wigmore was forced to resign his position at the Belize High Commission in London on the grounds that he had contravened the Vienna Convention, which stipulates that foreign diplomats should not interfere in the affairs of their host countries.
He was miffed, but it seems extraordinary that this had not been noticed earlier.
The Brex Pistols 😂 pic.twitter.com/Szyg0RBu0r
— Raheem 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@RaheemKassam) November 13, 2016