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Former electoral commissioner accuses Boris Johnson of undermining Britain’s democracy watchdog

Professor David Howarth says the plans could present a ‘serious threat to the fairness of elections’, as Andrew Woodcock reports

Sunday 05 September 2021 18:12 BST
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The powers could be used to win electoral advantage, says Prof Howarth
The powers could be used to win electoral advantage, says Prof Howarth (PA)

Boris Johnson’s controversial plans to reform electoral law will undermine the independence of Britain’s democracy watchdog and pose a “serious threat to the fairness of elections”, a former member of the Electoral Commission has warned.

Speaking to The Independent days ahead of Tuesday’s Commons debate on the prime minister’s Elections Bill, former commissioner David Howarth said that “catastrophic” provisions in the legislation give ministers new powers that could clearly be used by the ruling party to win an advantage at the ballot box.

And he warned that passage of the bill in its current form would harm the UK’s global reputation as a leading light of democracy, saying: “A country where the Electoral Commission is told what to do by the executive is not a country with free and fair elections.”

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