Dear Hampshire Out,
I ran Vote Leave for Basingstoke and Deane Borough. I have been a councillor for over 10 years. I was also in charge of running the counting Agents for Vote Leave on the night of the Referendum in 2016. Sadly our Count was “nobbled”. The Presiding Monitoring Officer had to get involved in trying to sort the mess out together with the Regional Electoral Agent for the South East. The first 16,000 votes counted were “parked” to one side. The slips had already been separated from the boxes and the results had already been input. I could have demanded they be recounted but at 1.00 a.m. in the morning I took a view that we could revisit them if the final result was too close to call. Instead we changed the process and I placed 4 Agents on the table we had the most concerns about. There are a number of witnesses. I told Daniel Hannan MEP about it the week afterwards. I told the new Chief Executive Mel Barrett about it. The Deputy Leader at that time Laura Taylor was the presiding officer that night. She has since moved to Winchester Council. Thankfully we ended up being 52% out 48% in, in Basingstoke. As a result of the problems that night we were one of the last Boroughs to declare. In the end we mirrored the national result. However, I often wonder what the result would have been had we not discovered what was going on. I often wonder whether other areas were “nobbled”. It is unlikely Basingstoke was unique. I truly fear for the integrity of our democracy. Our electoral system is based on trust. And yet our world is a different place now. It is easier to cast a vote than get a mobile telephone contract. I fear that if we have another EU Referendum the integrity of our democracy will be further placed in great danger. At the time of the Referendum Cameron’s extension of the deadline for registration of new Voters was extraordinary and in my opinion unacceptable.
Re Basingstoke’s Count, I felt so disheartened about our experience that night that I have barely raised the subject in public since. I am incredulous that it happened in UK. The threat of another Referendum makes me believe Basingstoke’s experience must be made public. It must not be allowed to happen again anywhere in this country. We are not some despot run third world country. The stakes for the future of our country have never been greater and light is the greatest cleanser of all. I should be very happy to talk about this in greater detail.
Councillor for Basing