Leave.EU campaign chief plans legal challenge to stop more people registering to vote

Multimillionaire Arron Banks said extending the registration deadline to let more people sign up was 'extreme'

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Indy Politics

The leader of one of the campaigns to leave the European Union has said he is planning to sue the Government over the extension of the deadline to register to vote.

Arron Banks, a multimillionaire insurance tycoon who also bankrolls Ukip, said it was “extreme” to give people two extra days to sign up to vote in the referendum.

The Government extended the deadline to register after its website crashed due to high demand and prevented people from signing up.

Leave campaigners are however worried that most of the people signing up to vote are young people, who tend to want to remain in the EU, according to polls.

Mr Banks said he had instructed his legal team to await any attempt by Parliament to back the announced extension with legislation.

“We've got lawyers that are looking at it at the moment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They are tending to say it's unconstitutional because once you've set the rules you can't really change it halfway through, and Parliament really shouldn't be doing this.

“I think what we’re going to do is wait to see what Parliament does and then we’re going to consult lawyers to see if we’ve got grounds to take them to court.”

He added: “If it went down for an hour and a half, why a 48 hour extension? That is extreme and it potentially leaves the result of the referendum open to a judicial review – it’s a close race.”

On Twitter he later accused the Government of trying to “abandon all rules”.


Arron Banks, one of the co-founders of Leave.EU, speaks at a press briefing in London

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin yesterday told the House of Commons that extending the deadline was “madness”.

Vote Leave, the designated Leave campaign, has also criticised the extension. 

Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of Vote Leave, claimed the extension of the deadline was linked to an attempt to stuff the electoral rolls with as many Remain supporters as possible. 

“They’ve just told the House of Commons that their website crashed last night because of the high demand, but we know that the Government and their allies are trying to register as many likely Remain voters as possible,” he said in a message to supporters.

Meanwhile The Spectator magazine reports that “senior figures” on the Leave side believe the registration website was “deliberately” crashed.

They reportedly believe the spike in traffic seen at 10.15pm on Tuesday which brought down the website was improbable in scale.

Remain campaigners derided the claims, with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan describing them as a “conspiracy theory”.

“As they comprehensively lose the economic argument, Leave campaigners are turning into a bunch of conspiracy theorists,” she said.

“Anyone who cares about British democracy, whichever side of the argument they are on, should support any attempts to get new voters registered to have their say in this referendum. Their attempt to deviate from this and focus on process stories show they have lost the substantive argument.

“Vote Leave’s anger is a reflection of their paranoid, anti-democratic attitudes. They want to con the British people into voting to leave Europe on a derisory turnout. However much they talk about sovereignty, it is clear they have no respect for the democratic rights of the British people."

Around a quarter of a million additional people registered to vote during yesterday’s extension, with more expected to sign up today before the renewed deadline of midnight on Thursday.