Arron Banks gave ‘£450,000 funding to Nigel Farage after Brexit vote’ | Politics


Nigel Farage was lavishly funded by Arron Banks in the year after the Brexit referendum, Channel 4 News has alleged, with the insurance tycoon providing him with a furnished Chelsea home, a car and driver, and money to promote him in America.

According to invoices, emails and other documents, Banks, who regularly bankrolled Farage’s former party, Ukip, spent about £450,000 in the year after the referendum, when Farage had quit as Ukip leader, the programme said.

It said the money, some provided via Rock Services Ltd, a company owned by Banks, was used to rent a Chelsea home for £13,000 a month, with Banks purchasing furniture and fittings including crockery and a shower curtain.

Farage was also provided with a Land Rover Discovery and a driver, and Banks sought to raise an extra £130,000 from supporters to cover security.

Farage refused to comment on the claims while Banks dismissed them as a “smear”.

Farage is now leading the Brexit party, formed in January 2019, which is topping polls for this month’s European elections. After quitting as Ukip leader he remained as an MEP, and also made regular appearances on Fox News and other TV shows.

During this period, as well as his MEP’s salary of nearly €9,000 a month, and an extra €30,000 a month declared in media appearances, Farage complained in an interview that he was “53, separated and skint” and that “there’s no money in politics”.

At the time, critics noted that this appeared an unusual claim, given he was then living in the Chelsea home, which is valued at about £4m.

Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over allegations of criminal offences by him and his unofficial leave campaign in the EU referendum. Farage has said that Banks is not funding the Brexit party.

According to Channel 4 News, the documents show that Banks and his companies, organised and funded visits to the US by Farage in the year after the referendum, including a trip in July 2016 to the Republican national convention.

The programme says that Banks, through another of his companies, Southern Rock, paid an American lobbyist, Gerry Gunster, to arrange a Nigel Farage “Brexit policy luncheon”.

It added that in 2016, Rock Services arranged visits by Farage and his key aide, Andy Wigmore, to travel to America on a series of occasions, including one where Farage was first introduced to Donald Trump.

Other invoices show Gunster’s company billed £108,684 for a party in Farage’s honour at a five-star hotel in Washington DC.

A Channel 4 News reporter approached Farage in Merthyr Tydfil on Wednesday to ask him about the alleged funding by Banks, with Farage saying he had no comment.

Banks told the programme: “Channel 4 attempts to smear myself and Nigel come at a time when the Brexit party is riding high in the polls, so it should come as no surprise to anyone.”

Farage has said that the Brexit party is predominantly financed by the £25 fees of its 100,000-plus paying supporters – it has no members. He has also said that financier Jeremy Hosking, a regular donor to the Conservatives in the past, has given £200,000 to the new party.

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