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Referendum Costs moted Brexit minister Steve Baker, showing their merchandise. There is no suggestion that the firm did anything wrong in working for the various different leave campaigns. But what is worth asking is this: how did all of the different Leave campaigns stumble upon the same obscure branding agency in Ely? Under UK electoral rules, campaigners are not allowed to agree to work together unless part of a joint campaign. But the rules are less than clear cut. Discussions with other campaigners that do not involve decision making or coordinating your plans are OK, but agreeing which areas or voters to target is not. What you definitely cannot do is agree how to co-ordinate your spending with another campaigner. “Using the same supplier for goods or services does not necessarily mean ‘working together’ is taking place. Working together is taken to be occurring when two or more campaigners have a common plan or arrangement,” the Electoral Commission said. In public, Vote Leave and Leave.EU were frequently at loggerheads, often accusing one another of undermining the Brexit cause. But the pattern of spending by the rival Brexit camps displays a marked level of

similarity, with both camps spending millions of pounds with the same firms, some of whom – like Aggregate IQ and Soopa Doopa – are hardly household names. Of course, one possible explanation might have been that these firms pitched their services to the campaigns, rather than the other way around. So we rang Soopa Doopa again to ask them how they got all this business, and they were clear that this isn’t what happened. As they said, before hanging up again:  “Everything you need to know is in the public domain. Those organisations came to us during the referendum and we supplied merchandise to them. That’s all I have to say really.” Over a year on from the Brexit result, serious questions are still being raised about referendum campaign spending. Perhaps it’s time the different Brexit campaigns explained how they spent their money, and where it all came from?  CT

The pattern of spending by the rival Brexit camps displays a marked level of similarity, with both camps spending millions of pounds with the same firms

Peter Geoghegan is an Irish writer and journalist based in Glasgow. His books include A Difficult Difference: Race, Religion and the ‘new’ Northern Ireland. Adam Ramsay is co-editor of openDemocracyUK and also works with Bright Green. This essay was first published at www.opendemocracy.net

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