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Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum concerns the evidence and ongoing investigation[1] by the UK Electoral Commission, the UK Parliament's Culture Select Committee, and the US Senate, on alleged Russian interference in the "Brexit" poll of 23 June 2016.[2] This has raised questions over the legal validity of the Brexit referendum,[3] and multiple criminal charges,[4] including allegations of treason.[5]

Background[edit]

After the referendum on the United Kingdom exiting the European Union ("Brexit"), Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that Russia "might be happy" with a positive Brexit vote. The official Remain campaign accused the Kremlin of secretly backing a positive Brexit vote.[6] In March 2016, Philip Hammond, the former Secretary for Defence and Foreign Secretary (later the Chancellor of the Exchequer) stated “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia” at a speech in March 2016.[7]

After the vote[edit]

In December 2016, Ben Bradshaw MP claimed in Parliament that Russia had interfered in the Brexit referendum campaign.[8] In February 2017, Bradshaw called on the British intelligence service, Government Communications Headquarters, then under Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, to reveal any information it had on Russian interference.[9]

In June 2017, it was reported by The Guardian that "Leave" campaigner Nigel Farage was a "person of interest" in the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation into Russian interference in the United States 2016 Presidential election.[10] Farage has called claims that he had any involvement, "What utter baloney, complete and utter baloney." By November 2017 he had yet to be questioned by the FBI.[11]

In October 2017, Members of Parliament in the Culture, Media and Sport Committee demanded that Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media corporations, to disclose all adverts and details of payments by Russia in the Brexit campaign.[12]

On 12 December 2017, members of the US Congress Ruben Gallego, Eric Swalwell and Gerry Connolly wrote to the Director of National Intelligence requesting information on Russian interference in the Brexit vote.[13] On 13 December 2017, Facebook stated that it found no significant Russian activity during Brexit, but this was immediately rejected by the committee chair, Damian Collins, as being information that was already public after US investigations into Russian interference.[14]

In January 2018, a US Senate minority report suggested possible ways Russia may have influenced the Brexit campaign.[15] It stated,[16]

In June 2018 it was revealed that Arron Banks, the biggest donor to the campaign for leaving, and co-organiser of Leave.EU received the offer of a Russian gold mine, and had had a series of meetings with the Russian Ambassador. On 14 June 2018, Banks appeared before Parliamentary committee hearing, where he appeared to admit to having lied about his engagements with Russians, and later walked out refusing to answer further questions by citing a luncheon appointment with the Democratic Unionist Party.[17] This has led Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, to publicly state there is the possibility of treason.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Francesca Gillet (2017-11-02). "Electoral Commission launches probe into Russian meddling in Brexit vote using Twitter and Facebook". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 
  2. ^ 'UK investigates Brexit campaign funding amid speculation of Russian meddling' (1 November 2017) Reuters. 'The UK's election watchdog has now questioned Google over Russian meddling in Brexit' (28 November 2017) Business Insider. P Wintour, 'Russian bid to influence Brexit vote detailed in new US Senate report' (10 January 2018) Guardian
  3. ^ E McGaughey, 'If 'Vote Leave' Broke the Law, Could Brexit be Void?' (8 June 2018) Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional
  4. ^ C Montgomery, H Mountfield, B Silverstone, IN THE MATTER OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES, ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUMS ACT 2000 AND THE EUROPEAN UNION REFERENDUM ACT 2015 AND IN THE MATTER OF REFERENDUM EXPENSES (20 March 2018)
  5. ^ Vince Cable MP: [https://twitter.com/vincecable/status/1008369953752469504 Twitter Account, 17 June 2018, 8:25 am. "Powerful piece by @carolecadwalla in the @observer on how treason has been quietly accepted because implications are too big. #Brexit not just a mess but fundamentally illegitimate."
  6. ^ S Rosenberg, ‘EU referendum: What does Russia gain from Brexit?’ (26 June 2016) BBC News
  7. ^ P Hammond, Alternatives to EU Membership (2 March 2016) "the EU already either has, or is negotiating, trade deals with all the biggest Commonwealth countries, and none of our allies wants us to leave the EU. Not Australia, not New Zealand, not Canada, not the US. In fact, the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia. That should tell us all we need to know."
  8. ^ Highly probable' that Russia interfered in Brexit referendum, Labour MP says' (13 December 2016) Independent
  9. ^ J Kanter and A Bienkov, 'Labour MPs think the government is hiding info about Russia interfering with Brexit' (23 February 2016) Business Insider
  10. ^ 'Nigel Farage is 'person of interest' in FBI investigation into Trump and Russia' (2 June 2017) Guardian
  11. ^ https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/an-audience-with-nigel-farage-taking-money-from-russia-utter-baloney-20171113
  12. ^ 'MPs order Facebook to hand over evidence of Russian election meddling' (24 October 2017) Telegraph
  13. ^ Democratic Congressmen request information about possible Russian interference in “Brexit” vote (12 December 2017)
  14. ^ M Burgess, 'Facebook claims Russia paid for 3 ads around Brexit – costing 73p' (13 December 2017) Wired
  15. ^ P Wintour, 'Russian bid to influence Brexit vote detailed in new US Senate report' (10 January 2018) Guardian
  16. ^ US Committee on Foreign Relations, Minority Report, 'Putin's Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security' (2018)
  17. ^ C Cadwalladr, 'Arron Banks ‘met Russian officials multiple times before Brexit vote’' (9 June 2018) Guardian. C Cadwalladr and P Jukes, 'Leave. EU faces new questions over contacts with Russia' (16 June 2018) Guardian. C Cadwalladr, 'Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection' (16 June 2018) Observer.
  18. ^ [https://twitter.com/vincecable/status/1008369953752469504 Vince Cable Twitter Account, 17 June 2018, 8:25 am. "Powerful piece by @carolecadwalla in the @observer on how treason has been quietly accepted because implications are too big. #Brexit not just a mess but fundamentally illegitimate."

External links[edit]

  • Bastos, M.T. and Mercea, D. (2017). The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan News. Social Science Computer Review
  • R Booth et al, 'Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows' (14 November 2017) Guardian
  • M Burgess, 'Facebook claims Russia paid for 3 ads around Brexit – costing 73p' (13 December 2017) Wired
  • E McGaughey, 'If 'Vote Leave' Broke the Law, Could Brexit be Void?' (8 June 2018) Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional
  • US Committee on Foreign Relations, Minority Report, 'Putin's Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security' (2018)

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