Theresa May’s surprise call for a snap general election in June is a distraction from the Tory election expenses scandal, according to a number of MPs.
On Wednesday, the CPS said they were considering criminal charges against more than 30 individuals for the election fraud committed by the Conservative party at the 2015 election, for which the party has already paid a record £70,000 fine.
The Tories insist its failure to report six figure sums it spent on campaigning to win the general election and three by-elections was an “administrative error”, but 15 police forces disagree and have passed files on more than 30 Conservative MPs and their agents to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
If any of these MPs under investigation are charged with breaking the law over the way they campaigned at the last election, it would cause a series of embarrassing by-elections in a variety of Conservative seats, including those most closely contested by UKIP. Tory losses in these seats would have caused the government to lose its majority in the Commons.
On his LBC radio show, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage commented:
“I think the Tories were terrified of something breaking over the course of the next few months, byelections to be held in September, certainly a dozen seats in which there was the possibility of a by-election some say even 20. And that for a government with a working majority of 12.”
The Crown Prosecution Service says the general election will have no bearing on the timing of decisions on whether to press charges. However, the decision must be made by early June, and individual Tory MPs accused of breaking the law may face prosecution while attempting to fight for reelection.