Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum concerns the evidence and ongoing investigation 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. This has raised questions over the legal validity of the Brexit referendum, and multiple criminal charges, including allegations of treason.
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. 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.
In December 2016, Ben Bradshaw MP claimed in Parliament that Russia had interfered in the Brexit referendum campaign. 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.
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. 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.
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.
In November 2017 it became public knowledge that Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of Vote Leave, was a founding member of Conservative Friends of Russia, and had been a target asset by someone known to be a Russian spy.
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. 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.
|“||The Russian government has sought to influence democracy in the United Kingdom through disinformation, cyber hacking, and corruption. While a complete picture of the scope and nature of Kremlin interference in the UK's June 2016 referendum is still emerging, Prime Minister Theresa May and the UK government have condemned the Kremlin’s active measures, and various UK government entities, including the Electoral Commission and parliamentarians, have launched investigations into different aspects of possible Russian government meddling.||”|
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. This has led Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, to publicly state there is the possibility of "treason".[better source needed]
In July 2018, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, released an interim report on 'Disinformation and ‘fake news’', stating that Russia had engaged in "unconventional warfare" through Twitter and other social media against the United Kingdom, designed to amplify support for a "leave" vote in Brexit.
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