“Nigel knew from his favorite pollster leave had won before he gave at least one of his concessions that pushed the market in the wrong direction that night.”
So says Cam Simpson (pictured), investigations editor/writer for Bloomberg & Businessweek, who alongside two other journalists looked into the bizarre events that unfolded in June 2016 on the night of the Brexit results.
Within a minute of votes closing, Nigel Farage, one of the leading figure of the brexit campaign, appeared to have conceded, stating:
“It’s been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and looks like Remain will edge it. UKIP and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future.”
That looked like an uncharacteristic behavior. More interesting, however, was the second concession made about two hours later in an interview with the Press Association. Farage said:
“I don’t know, but I think Remain will edge it, yes. The massive increase in voter registration will be the reason for that.”
Asked if he was just experiencing election-night jitters, the UKIP leader replied: “It is a calm and rational feeling. If I am wrong, I would be thrilled. But it is what we have seen out and about, and what I know from some of my friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling.”
“Wait a minute,” Simpson says. “Pollsters secretly working with hedge funds and Nigel had access to that information before any of the votes were even announced? That was the moment when I realized there’s a lot here for us to look into.”
A report then follows on Bloomberg two years later in 2018 detailing private exit polls given to hedge funds, one of them being by Yougov which made a very wrong public call that evening stating remain had won based on online exit polls. The authors have now given some more detail in a video.
“On the night that he gave the concession speech, we do know there were others within UKIP and within the Leave EU campaign who were very curious why he was going on air saying that leave had lost because they too had access to this private polling data which showed that leave had won,” says Gavin Finch, an investigative reporter at Bloomberg who covers financial crime.
Pound price action on Brexit day.
We can see in these three hour candles that the price of pound against the dollar rose to $1.50 between 9 pm and midnight on June 23rd 2016. And then plunges in the biggest crash ever for any currency by the amount traded.
A number of hedge funds made hundred of millions in profit. The reporters wonder whether that was insider trading based on these private exit polls.
“The reasons he gave to us that he made those concessions was simply that he had an attack of nerves essentially. When the moment came, he got jittery and nervous and lost faith. He described being in a sort of black despair and a gloom about what the outcome would be and losing hope,” says Kit Chellel, the third Bloomberg reporter that investigated this story.
On the day of the vote, the British people were told by mass media that polls say Remain would win by 10%. How they got it so wrong, and how Farage too got it so wrong especially if he had access to exit polls which said leave had won, remains unclear.
Just as it is unclear how the voters were affected that day if they thought Remain was clearly going to win. Did that get more Leavers out? Did that nudge more Remainers to stay home and not vote?
The clear conflict of interest here between polling companies selling private information to hedge funds while giving their polls for free to media does raise many questions.
Just as does the biggest one: Did Farage make millions by telling the public one thing while allegedly seemingly knowing otherwise? That we don’t know.