STEVE ANGLESEY looks at the Vote Leave campaigner’s rule-breaking and rounds up the worst Brexiteers of the week.
The old saying ‘crime doesn’t pay’ can now be updated to ‘Grimes doesn’t pay’.
Fellow Brexiteers have handed £60,000 to Darren Grimes via a crowdfunding campaign so he can appeal a £20,000 Electoral Commission fine for his part in the Vote Leave scandal.
Grimes, of course, is used to this kind of largesse. In the final days of the referendum campaign, with the official Brexit campaign close to their budget limit, they gave the then fashion student £675,000 to spend on whatever he liked.
Happily for them, it turned out to be the kind of thing students normally spend their spare cash on – a sophisticated data marketing campaign from data analytics firm AggregateIQ, who by a happy coincidence were also working for Vote Leave. For some reason, the Electoral Commission viewed all this as evidence of collusion and a deliberate attempt to break spending limits.
Grimes launched his appeal fund with a video in which he directly addresses the camera.
‘Hi, I’m Darren Grimes,’ he says. ‘But you might know me better as the 22-year-old the Electoral Commission recently fined.’ It’s a bold opening, especially since Grimes is 24 years old.
But then much of what Darren Grimes says and does is confusing. Take an interview he did with the BBC’s Newsbeat website in June 2015, just over a year before the referendum.
Grimes was then a Lib Dem activist mourning the death of Charles Kennedy, and seemingly a supporter of the former party leader’s Remain stance. ‘He would have been great in the upcoming EU referendum,’ Grimes said at the time. ‘He believed that in an increasingly globalised world, having Britain in Europe was the only way forward. And I think that’s the message the party needs pushing.’
Or take, once his Damascene conversion to Brexit was complete, Grimes’ insistence that BeLeave ‘was its own independent campaign’. He was a regular visitor to the Vote Leave office and admits hearing about AIQ from Vote Leave staff. Photos taken during the campaign show Grimes in a Vote Leave t-shirt, beaming behind Michael Gove at a press conference. On June 22, the day before the vote, he was pictured, again in Vote Leave colours, campaigning with Priti Patel in Dover.
Together with fellow MPs Nadine Dorries and Lucy Allan, Patel publicly supported Grimes’ crowdfunder. All three have since been reported to the parliamentary standards commissioner, with a suggestion that defiance of the Electoral Commission’s findings may contravene part v/16 of the House of Commons code of conduct: ‘Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally.’
Meanwhile, Grimes continues on his strange path. On August 10 he tweeted: ‘I see Owen Jones is on the telly box with some spicy takes. On Boris he says, ‘I don’t agree, women should wear what they want.’ That’s what Boris said you tool.’
But a bemused Jones pointed out that he had not appeared on that day’s television to discuss Johnson and the tweet was quietly deleted.
Two days later, Grimes told his 13,600 Twitter followers it was ‘two years on and the sneering, arrogant Remainers still don’t get why they lost’. Just a guess Darren, but is part of the reason that you and your mates broke the rules?
After the Maybot…Meet the Idsbot
Theresa May may have been ridiculed for robotically repeating the same mantras, but now Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith appears to have got stuck on a single word while appearing on Radio’s 4’s Today.
He told the programme: ‘A lot of employers simply have not even bothered to try and find UK people to work. I think the best thing to do is work with what we have got and make it work for everyone around the world.
‘People can come here for work but they need to have work to come to and that work needs to have been agreed and accepted that there isn’t a person in the UK that could do that work and has the skills to do that work.’
That’s why he used to be the Work Work Work Work and Pensions secretary.
Brexiteers of the week
3rd) Neil and Christine Hamilton
Mrs H lost her job as a charity ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy UK after tweeting an image of hooded Ku Klux Klan members with the caption: ‘If the burka is acceptable then presumably this is too?’ Hubby Neil, meanwhile, failed to win back his job as UKIP’s leader in the Welsh Assembly. He lost out to Gareth Bennett, who is currently facing a standards investigation after spending nearly £10,000 of taxpayers’ money on a constituency office which never opened.
Bennett’s previous finest hour came in 2016, when he blamed migrants for dropping litter in Cardiff. He said: ‘I think with some of the ethnicities that have moved in, possibly the eastern Europeans, they just don’t have any awareness of the hygiene problem that is being caused at times.’
2nd) Jo Marney and Henry Bolton
The former UKIP leader’s girlfriend is keeping a keen sense of perspective about the period she spent holed up in his flat during their fake break-up. Marney, who supposedly had been dumped by Bolton over her offensive messages about Meghan Markle, told the Mail On Sunday: ‘We kept the curtains drawn and I wasn’t even allowed to go near a window, let alone venture outside. This ridiculous scenario went on for weeks on end. I felt like Anne Frank during the war.’
Marney also revealed that Bolton forgot to pack any of his own underwear when they travelled to the crunch UKIP meeting at which he lost his job, and ended up wearing a pair of her leopard-print knickers under his three-piece suit. Which makes her boyfriend the first party leader who claims to have been in the French commandos but refused to go commando when under fire.
1st) John Elliot
The 74-year-old Brexity businessman, whose company Ebac makes water coolers, told Bloomberg ‘if we stop trading with Europe, it wouldn’t be a big problem’. Currently around 80% of Ebac’s water coolers are sold in EU countries.
Mr Elliott also supports a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, regardless of concerns that it will lead to the return of violence. ‘They’re just messing about with these funny words like a frictionless border. That just means no border,’ he explained. ‘You have to have friction. It’s just one of these phrases Remainers like, which are meaningless. It’s like saying I have a frictionless water filter.’