Brexit: Crowdfunding Campaign Hopes To Prosecute 'Lying' Vote Leave Leaders

 Priti Patel and Penny Mordaun
Conservative MPs Priti Patel (R) and Penny Mordaunt (L) hold up Vote Leave posters with supporters in front of the campaign's battle bus as it stops in Portsmouth, England, May 13. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A crowdfunding campaign has pledged to “prosecute dishonest Brexit politicians,” including U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, and to “bring integrity back to British politics.”

The #BrexitJustice group’s webpage has amassed over £49,000 ($64,800) in donations to its cause. The project will be canceled, however, if a minimum of £100,000 ($132,550) is not raised in the next 12 days.

The volunteer-run campaign’s stated objectives include bringing legal action against Vote Leave leaders, who based their arguments on “fraud, misconduct in public office, undue influence and, possibly, inciting racial hatred.”

Several legal professionals have already backed the cause, including Stephen Jeary, a barrister at 30 Park Place, a law firm in Cardiff. “We must fight for integrity in U.K. politics. If Brexiteers sought to mislead the public, then those Brexiteers ought to be brought to book,” he said.

Other prominent supporters of the campaign include the billionaire business magnate Sir Alan Sugar, the philosopher A.C. Grayling and the singer Paloma Faith.

Marcus Ball, from Norwich, England, who has spent the last six years founding start-ups focused on higher education reform, politics and health, started the campaign. The 26-year-old felt “majorly angry with lying politicians,” who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). Ball will act as the claimant on behalf of the campaign’s supporters if enough money is raised to take Vote Leave to court.

#BrexitJustice is critical of a number of Vote Leave’s claims, including one of the group’s buses featuring an advert persuading voters that the EU financially damages the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS): “We send the EU £350 million ($463 million) a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave.”

“Our politicians do not fear lying to us because we have not made enough effort to bring justice to them for doing so,” said Ball.

Members of the public have commented on the crowdfunding page, applauding the campaign’s aims. “We should not let these people get away with the packs of lies they have to,” wrote Gerard Downing on July 15. “The misleading leave campaign lacked legitimacy and for the sake of all of us that point needs to be made and heard.” “Thank you and the best of luck,” wrote Maggie Colwill, another critic of the Leave camp, on Monday.

Not everyone agrees that the #BrexitJustice campaign is reasonable—the majority of the country voted to leave the EU, and that result should be upheld, some argue.

“#BrexitJustice is a campaign that unashamedly wants to overturn the will of 17.4 million people,” Tom Slater, organizer of Invoke Article 50 NOW!, a campaign to uphold the referendum result, told The Independent. “As for the campaign’s suggestion that Leave voters were duped by the ‘lies’ of the Leave campaign, it just shows how stupid people like Marcus Ball think the British public is. For the sake of democracy, we must all resist these snobby, anti-democratic schemes.”

Ball hopes that his #BrexitJustice campaign will receive the required financial backing to make a difference.

“There is no guarantee that this campaign will be funded successfully or that the ensuing legal action will be concluded successfully. This will be a challenging endeavor,” he said. “However, if we can combine a successful funding campaign with the best legal minds in the country and the advantage afforded by intense public pressure to pursue justice, it is possible that we could win our cases.”