Many of those reading ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ have asked, what about the ‘Bad Girls’? It is, as with so many power dynamics, men who have been pushing this unholy alliance behind Brexit. It is the big male financiers who funded the campaigns and look set to make big money from the decision, it is male egos like that of Farage who dominate our media and it is certainly mostly men who seem so hell-bent on slashing and burning regulations that protect worker and environmental rights.
For every rule though, there is an exception and in this case, the exception is the exceptionally extraordinary Liz Bilney.
Liz Bilney is the chief executive of Leave.EU and, significantly, the ‘responsible person’ registered to be legally responsible for their campaign. This means she now faces a police investigation after the Electoral Commission concluded that she “knowingly or recklessly signed a false declaration accompanying the Leave.EU referendum spending return” with further investigations in the pipeline.
The Electoral Commission said Leave.EU had exceeded the spending limit for “non-party registered campaigners” by at least 10% by failing to include at least £77,380 in its spending return – the fee paid to campaign organiser Better for the Country Ltd (a company to which both Bilney and Bad Boy Arron Banks are Directors) – and added the overspend “may well have been considerably higher than that”.
Leave.EU was, of course, co-founded by the self-declared Bad Boy of Brexit, Arron Banks who she says she has known since 2007. And this, in of itself, is significant. Their professional overlap goes far beyond Leave.EU:
- Liz Bilney is a Director of Westmonster, the far-right news publication that Arron Banks co-owns (along with Bad Boy of Brexit Nigel Farage’s former press officer, Michael Heaver)
- Big Data Dolphin. Liz Bilney is a Director of Big Data Dolphin, a big data company that former Brittany Keiser told the UK Parliament Bad Boys Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore set up after meeting Cambridge Analytica.
- Eldon Insurance. Liz Bilney is a Director of Eldon Insurance, Arron Bank’s insurance company that has been accused of sharing customer’s data with Leave.EU.
- Better for the Country Ltd. Liz Bilney, alongside Arron Banks, is a Director for Better for the Country Ltd, which was one of the main bodies giving money to the Brexit campaign.
- OpenDemocracy highlighted how Better for the Country Ltd board includes, alongside Banks himself, Andy Wigmore, Liz Bilney and Alison Marshall. All of them were also trustees of Banks’ charity, Love Saves the Day Foundation, which was recently wound up in the midst of an investigation by the Charity Commission after it’s only published accounts showed no funds going in or out of the charity – as exposed by the Ferrer.
- And the list continues with many more examples of share interests…
It’s more than just a professional interest that Liz and Arron share, it is also an ideological one. Liz Bilney has consistently been one of the strongest advocates for leaving the EU declaring on Sky News that “we will not be poorer, we will be better off by £1000 per person”.
This exemplifies the sort of post-truth narrative that came to define the Leave.EU campaign and their disinformation campaign of which the much-discredited emphasis on the £350 million a week ‘Brexit dividend’ was the centrepiece. What we might politely call their ‘narrative’, however, stands in stark contrast to Whitehall estimates which are suggesting a 2-8% drop in growth with some predictions foreseeing a ‘doomsday scenario’ of food running out within days.