Who paid for Brexit?
People and Power investigates the curious questions about the referendum. Was the original vote to leave the EU tainted?
Vladimir Putin tells Theresa May to 'fulfil will of people' on Brexit
Russian president gives backing to UK prime minister in ‘fighting for this Brexit’
Last modified on Thu 20 Dec 2018 07.01 EST
Vladimir Putin has said the UK should not hold a second referendum on Brexit, insisting Theresa May must “fulfil the will of the people”.
Offering public support that the embattled British prime minister may rather do without, Putin said he “understood” May’s position in “fighting for this Brexit”.
“The referendum was held,” the Russian president said from Moscow during a press conference shown on national television. “What can she do? She has to fulfil the will of the people expressed in the referendum.”
Russia is seen as a possible beneficiary of the UK’s exit from the EU, and a prominent financial backer of the leave campaign met Russian embassy officials repeatedly during the run-up to the referendum in June 2016.
Putin went on to criticise the idea of a second referendum or “people’s vote”, which could offer the possibility of Britain staying in the EU. A no-deal Brexit has become significantly more likely, with May’s deal expected to be rejected by the UK parliament.
“Was it not a referendum?” he said. “Someone disliked the result, so repeat it over and over? Is this democracy? What then would be the point of the referendum in the first place?”
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... are_btn_tw
Brexit funder Arron Banks implicated in illegal SA diamond operation
One of the main funders of the Brexit campaign has allegedly been getting his hands dirty in the illicit South African diamond trade.
Arron Banks Brexit South Africa diamonds
Arron Banks, the “bad-boy” backer of the Brexit campaign, has come under fire for allegedly attempting to smuggle uncut diamonds out of South Africa. The allegations come just a month after he came clean about an illicit payment to a government minister in Lesotho, based around his mining investments.
The Forensics for Justice team – spearheaded by fraud investigator Paul O’Sullivan – say they’ve obtained an email from Banks which he sent to former business partner Chris Kimber. As The Guardian report, the communication is the smoking gun in an armoury of evidence collected against the multi-millionaire:
“Chris, can you bring over a certificate for the diamond I took back – have you got any blanks!!! Was looking at getting it cut but need the paperwork…A.”
The alleged email sent by Arron Banks, obtained by Forensics For Justice
Brexit backer’s dodgy South African diamond deal
O’Sullivan has built a case against Banks, accusing him of flouting regulations that keep diamond smugglers from using their discoveries to fund illegitimate regimes. In an extensive explanation, the investigator believes that the Bristol-born businessman has practically broke every rule in the book:
Banks failed to obtain a “Kimberley Process Certificate” – the paperwork which confirms a diamond comes from a legitimate mine.
Neither Arron Banks nor his businesses are licensed to export diamonds.
By not telling authorities about the diamond, he also dodged a 15% levy on exports.
Banks’ failure to declare this precious stone is in direct contravention of “conflict gems” laws, which seek to prohibit the funding of war criminals through unearthed diamonds.
Who is Arron Banks?
The Hawks have previously been hot on Banks’ trail, and revealed concerns earlier in the year that he was seeking Russian investment for his mining pursuits. His involvement with Russia has also been a fierce bone of contention with his Brexit connections, with many accusing him of using their cash to secure a “Leave” vote in the 2016 EU Referendum.
The diamond that has put Banks in the rough is said to be worth about R720 000, or just under $60 000. The forecast tax costs would have run up to a near-five-figure sum in pounds, too.
https://www.thesouthafrican.com/arron-b ... 5594648892
Brexit backer Arron Banks faces questions over uncut diamond
Campaigners report businessman to multiple authorities over gem allegedly removed from South Africa
Emma Graham-HarrisonSat 22 Dec 2018 16.00 EST
Controversial businessman Arron Banks is facing questions from anti-corruption campaigners over a valuable uncut diamond from South Africa that he may have smuggled out of the country, evading thousands of pounds in taxes and flouting controls on the international movement of diamonds set up to prevent the sale of “conflict gems”.
The allegations, made by Forensics for Justice, are based on an email from Banks to a business partner, which the organisation says it collected from the recipient. It forms part of a dossier it compiled this year on Banks’s business dealings in South Africa and Lesotho.
The non-profit group, committed to investigating claims of corruption across Africa, says it spent months digging into Banks’s business dealings. It has reported him and business associates to authorities in Britain and South Africa, claiming its evidence suggests links to crimes relating to diamonds and corruption.
The Observer has learned that the National Crime Agency, which is investigating the source of Banks’s £8m donation to a Brexit campaign, has made enquiries about his business dealings in the region. Banks has said previously that the money he donated to Brexit came from his UK businesses, and there is no suggestion it came from southern Africa.
Banks had previously admitted, in a BBC interview, putting money into the personal account of a government minister in Lesotho, where he was trying to secure a mining licence, but denied the money amounted to corruption.
His former business partner Chris Kimber has claimed to South African police that Banks “was involved in illicit diamond buying in various African countries”, Channel 4 reported. Banks didn’t respond to any allegations put to him by the Observer but has previously described the Channel 4 claims as “ludicrous”.
The new allegations over the movement of the diamond are based on an email from Banks to Kimber, which Forensics for Justice said it obtained from Kimber after the two businessmen fell out.
The email is dated April 2014 and was sent from the UK, said Paul O’Sullivan, a South African certified fraud investigator and Forensics for Justice founder. He claimed he had preserved metadata that confirmed when and from where it was sent.
The email says: “Chris, can you bring over a certificate for the diamond I took back – have you got any blanks!!! Was looking at getting it cut but need the paperwork…A.”
Anyone transporting rough diamonds across international borders, or getting them cut, needs a Kimberley Process Certificate to guarantee that the gem comes from a legitimate mine, O’Sullivan said. These documents are a key part of an international system to prevent gems mined in war zones being sold to fund further conflict.
O’Sullivan also said South African officials told his team that Banks and his company were not authorised as diamond exporters. Kimber also said in a sworn statement that Banks was not an authorised exporter, and “No diamonds have yet been lawfully exported from South Africa to Banks (from his own mines).”
If Banks did not declare the gem to South African authorities, he would have avoided a 15% levy charged by the country on the export of rough diamonds.
“The only way he could possibly have taken it back is in his pocket,” O’Sullivan claimed.
“If it came through in someone’s pocket by walking through the green channel, that would probably amount to the offence of smuggling a diamond,” O’Sullivan added of Banks’s arrival in the UK. “So we made that the cornerstone of our criminal complaint [to UK authorities].”
O’Sullivan claimed he was told the diamond mentioned in the email was a seven-carat stone worth $40,000 in its rough form. Taxes and duty in the UK and South Africa would have run into thousands of pounds.
Banks declined to respond to questions about why he appeared to have brought a diamond “back” without the necessary certificate, and what, if any, taxes were paid in South Africa or the UK on the uncut diamond.
The Forensics for Justice investigation benefited from a falling out between Banks and Kimber, his partner in all his South African mining ventures. Last year, the Bristol-based businessman decided to sue Kimber over the diamond investments in South Africa. The case is ongoing.
Kimber provided a sworn statement to Forensics for Justice, included in the file the group compiled, which details his business relationship with Banks.
O’Sullivan first heard about Banks in 2017, and began looking into his regional business. That expanded into an investigation which included social media analysts, forensic analysts, a lawyer and O’Sullivan himself.
“We like to send out a very clear message, if you want to come and mess around in Africa… we are going to identify you and do what we can to have you prosecuted,” O’Sullivan said.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... are_btn_tw
Ralf Little Retweeted Christopher Wylie
How do people get away with copying actual Nazi propaganda?! First it was Farage’s “Breaking Point” billboard now this! “Oh but the Soros one isn’t explicitly anti-Semitic”. It’s copied from the NAZIS. They were pretty clear on this issue.
https://twitter.com/RalfLittle/status/1 ... 0636909568
More antisemitic dog whistling from LeaveEU. Why are they still allowed on Twitter?
Peter Jukes Retweeted Ralf Little
Let’s be clear. The Nazi echo is not an accident. As @andywigmore told @EmmaLBriant, Leave EU messaging was inspired by Hitler.
Pro-Brexit activist said all Muslims should be removed from UK
Video found of James Goddard, part of group who barracked Anna Soubry, arguing Islam should be banned from west
Peter WalkerLast modified on Wed 9 Jan 2019 18.16 EST
The most prominent of the protesters who have harassed MPs and journalists outside the Houses of Parliament in recent weeks argued last year that all Muslims should be removed from the UK, saying he wanted to “ban Islam from the west”, it has emerged.
In another indication of the far-right views held by several of the self-styled yellow vest activists stationed outside parliament, ostensibly to call for Brexit, a video exists of James Goddard arguing that Islam should be removed from the UK.
Goddard, who has regularly filmed himself and other activists harassing and abusing people including the Conservative MP Anna Soubry, has built up his profile by live-streaming confrontations to Facebook and seeking donations to finance his actions.
However, following calls from the Speaker, John Bercow, as well as from more than 100 MPs for a stronger response from the police after a group including Goddard barracked Soubry as she walked to parliament, his Facebook and Paypal pages were removed.
'Nazi', 'fascist': Pro-Brexit group targets MP and journalist outside parliament – video report
Goddard’s page on the mass-funding website Patreon, on which he styled himself a “political activist” and sought donations, has also been suspended.
The video, uploaded in September, shows Goddard engaged in a long debate about Islam with Jaffer Ladak, the imam of a mosque in Stanmore, north London.
During the conversation, Goddard said that the estimated 2,000 mosques around the UK “shouldn’t be there” and he would “get rid of them”.
Asked what this meant in practice, Goddard said: “I wouldn’t blow them up. If I ever got into power I’d give you all £5,000 to £10,000 and ask you to leave. I don’t believe that Islam should be in the west, no. This is a Christian country.”
If Muslims refused to leave voluntarily, “then we’d have to think of a legal way that we could do it”, he said.
Goddard said he wanted to “ban Islam from the west”, calling the faith “a threat to every man, woman and child in this country”. He added: “I just don’t think that Islam is compatible with the west. I just don’t think that people who believe in child marriage and terrorism should be in the United Kingdom, or Europe for that matter. That book poses a threat, and as long as that book exists there will never be peace in the west.”
Goddard has previously posted anti-Islam statements on Gab, a social media site popular with the far right, and has supported Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the founder of the English Defence League street movement.
Other yellow vest activists outside the Houses of Parliament, who model their tactics on the French gilets jaunes movement, have said they do not share such views, and insist Goddard is not a leader of the group.
However, the group Hope Not Hate has said that the emergence of the movement raises fears that amid the Brexit process, “the threat from the far right is growing and the risk of disorder and violence is on the rise”.
In recent weeks, members of the group outside parliament have also blocked Westminster Bridge, shouted sometimes sexist and racist abuse at TV crews, stormed into the offices of a radio station and the Labour party, and held small demonstrations in a number of cities.
https://amp.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... ssion=true
Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn faces demands from Labour activists to back referendum
By Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News
Twenty four hours before Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn makes a speech on Brexit, some of his own activists have been pressing for a more robust stance.
The party's current policy is to oppose Theresa May's deal, then call for an election - and only if that doesn't happen should other options be considered.
These would include (but are not limited to) what the party calls a "public vote" on Brexit.
But some members are becoming more vocal in demanding the leadership speed up calls for a new referendum.
Fresh Brexit setback for May in MPs' vote
Ministers defeated over no-deal Brexit
Corbyn urged to call no-confidence vote
Labour's international policy commission - which consists of shadow cabinet members, trade unionists and rank and file activists - discussed Brexit for two hours on Wednesday afternoon.
The commission doesn't have the power to change policy but it heard party activists' concerns.
I understand more than 5,000 Labour members posted submissions to it.
I have sifted through some of these - and here is a flavour.
Labour members' voices
A party member called Margo Sheridan declares: "It's now crunch time - a large majority of Labour members now want a new referendum."
If that doesn't happen, she says: "It would break my heart to leave the Labour party after 42 years, but I would have no other choice."
A councillor, Andrew Prenter, says he is "in despair over the leadership's strategy on Brexit".
And an activist called John Newham says: 'Given the likelihood of parliament being unable to agree on the PM's deal, Labour should seize the initiative and propose a second referendum."
Many more contributions are in a similar vein.
Labour sources point out that only around 1% of Labour's mass membership have made these views known to the policy commission.
Chuka Umunna with members of the People's Vote campaignGetty Images
Labour MP Chuka Umunna with members of the cross-party People's Vote campaign
And we certainly should not assume that all of the despairing comments are spontaneous.
The People's Vote campaign has been encouraging its Labour members to press the party leadership to support a new referendum.
These campaigners are often dismissed by those close to Jeremy Corbyn as "centrists" or "Blairites".
But some on the Left - who otherwise strongly support Mr Corbyn's leadership - say fellow activists are feeling disheartened by the reluctance of the leadership to call for a new referendum.
Michael Chessum, from left-wing campaign group Another Europe Is Possible. told me: "Labour's leadership has to understand that I as a left-wing activist, and other left-wing activists in Momentum, are very worried about the threat to the Corbyn project if Corbyn spins so far away from his members.
"I think there is pain for Labour whatever direction we go now, but we have to go back to the people and if Corbyn does that, it will save the entire situation."
Battles in the branches
Michael Chessum expects about 200 of Labour's local constituency parties to debate Brexit policy this month.
His group wants to see both a fresh referendum and a defence of the free movement of people.
Polling suggests strong support for a referendum amongst rank and file Labour members, but other opinions are available.
The left-wing Campaign for Labour Party Democracy is circulating a counter-motion for discussion amongst Labour's local parties.
This is supportive of the leadership position, which prioritises an election over a public vote.
And sources say at Wednesday's policy commission meeting, consideration was given to the views of those members who had expressed concerns about moving quickly to support a new referendum and those who wanted to make clear that the result of the 2016 vote was being respected.
There was also vocal support for the "sequencing" of any response to the government on Brexit - in other words pressing for an election before any other options were considered.
And there was praise for the leadership's decision not to table a confidence vote before Christmas, instead waiting until the prime minister puts her deal to a Commons vote.
Tensions at the top
Nonetheless, there have been tensions at the top of the party over when exactly to press a vote of no confidence in the government.
Supporters of a new referendum had been pushing for this to be done swiftly as they expect it, and calls for a general election, to fail.
They could then push for the party to campaign for a public vote.
Labour's Jon Ashworth: "We're not enabling Brexit. This country had a referendum"
For obvious reasons, opponents of a new referendum - and some shadow cabinet members want to avoid this at all costs - haven't been keen to move so swiftly.
As things stand, I am told it's likely that the two positions will be reconciled.
As parliament today has, in effect, asked for the prime minister to come back with a Plan B within just three working days of her deal going down to defeat, then this seems to be emerging as the favoured time for a confidence vote.
No dramatic change
Kate HoeyGetty Images
Kate Hoey believes Mr Corbyn will resist calls for another referendum
Labour MP Kate Hoey - who campaigned to leave the EU - has known Jeremy Corbyn for years.
She believes that even if Labour's confidence vote fails to bring about an election, her party leader won't rush to embrace a new referendum.
She told me: "I think Jeremy will resist the call for a second referendum unless there is absolutely no other option.
"And those of us on the Leave side will always say there are lots of options."
Party insiders tell me not to expect a dramatic change in policy from the Labour leader in Thursday's speech.
Mercer/Cambridge Analytica epic fail
Pro-EU and no-deal protesters unite against Brexit plan
Unlikely alliance forms at Westminster opposing PM’s seemingly doomed strategy
Damien GayleTue 15 Jan 2019 13.43 EST
Follow the day’s political developments – live updates
People’s vote and no-deal Brexit supporters stood side-by-side outside parliament on Tuesday afternoon as they joined forces in an odd coalition to oppose Theresa May’s apparently doomed deal to leave the European Union.
By 5pm, thousands of pro-European protesters had gathered in a flood-lit Parliament Square for the people’s vote rally, whose campaigners had erected two giant video screens and a stage for the live broadcast of the debate and vote in the House of Commons.
It came after an afternoon of protest around Westminster, where activists from both sides of the debate flew placards and made it clear they opposed the deal – while hoping for different outcomes.
Among the hundreds of people’s vote protesters who had stood on the patch of grass at the back of Westminster Abbey was Alex Kay, 60, the mayor of Bradford on Avon. Standing with two friends, she said she hoped Tuesday night’s vote on whether to accept the deal would be “the beginning of the end of Brexit.”
Her friend Maria af Sanderberg, 47, a Swede who has lived in the UK for 20 years, said: “It’s astonishing that with this bad deal – which is much worse than staying in the EU – [May] has managed to unite the remainers and the Brexiteers against her, which is actually an irony of perfection.”
As they spoke, a phalanx of no-deal supporters came marching into their midst chanting “Bollocks to the EU”, before placing a European Union flag on the floor and setting it alight. The scene was animated but peaceful.
Closer to the gates of the palace, Philip Hodson, 60, from Newmarket in Suffolk, stood holding a placard reading: “Uphold our English constitution.”
“I hope the outcome will be no deal, and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We should leave straight away and then Europe will come looking for us for a deal.
“The reason this deal should be thrown out is it’s offering £39bn to the EU for nothing. It’s taking away our right to vote in the EU and our veto, while leaving us subject to its rules.
“That’s why most remainers and leavers are together … Everybody recognises this is a terrible, terrible deal. A child could get a better deal.”
Damien Gayle (@damiengayle)
Philip Hodson, 60, from Suffolk: "Remainers and leavers are together... Everybody recognises this is a terrible, terrible deal."#NoDealBrexit #PeoplesVote #MeaningfulVote #Brexit #BrexitVote pic.twitter.com/uUvSnBtOcg
January 15, 2019
The first speaker of the evening was Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP. She said: “We’ve got a really clear message for the prime minister and I hope she’s listening, because our message is that we will not be blackmailed into accepting her dangerous blindfold Brexit deal.
“Our message is we reject her vision of a mean-minded little Britain with our borders closed. Our message is that we are going to stand up in particular for our young people who voted overwhelmingly to remain and who believe our future is in Europe.”
The rally overlapped with protests by a number of no-deal Brexit campaigners, who have been active around parliament in recent days. A picture shared online by Vinnie Sullivan, a social media figurehead for the movement, showed several dozen outside a West End pub as they prepared for the evening.
Damien Gayle (@damiengayle)
Incredible anti #Brexit sculpture doing the rounds of Westminster and Parliament Square during the #PeoplesVote rally, as MPs carry out #BrexitVote debate inside the Commons pic.twitter.com/Jzdr1vO5U3
January 15, 2019
In a statement, Sullivan told the Guardian: “The will of the west shall not be undermined by plastic politicians, anarchist socialists, abuse defending media or their violent minions. Whatever the decision a no deal is the only way to free a country and a civilisation corrupted by outside entities.”
Asked about the presence of opposing activists in Westminster, a spokesman for the People’s Vote campaign said: “There are obviously people on all sides of the debate around parliament today. Everybody’s welcome to come and listen; we won’t be turning anybody away.”
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... rexit-plan
Brexit vote: British Parliament rejects Theresa May’s Brexit deal, leaving withdrawal from E.U. and prime minister’s political future in doubt
Karla AdamLONDON —
Prime Minister Theresa May was defeated in a landslide vote on Tuesday in Parliament, where lawmakers rejected her Brexit deal by a vote of 432 to 202 — a pure humiliation for a British leader who has spent the past two years negotiating her failed withdrawal agreement with Brussels.
May stood almost alone, as many in her own party abandoned their leader and left Britain’s future relationship with the European Union unclear.
Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition Labour Party leader, called the loss historic — and unrivaled since the 1920s. He said her process of “delay and denial” had lead to failure. He then introduced a motion of no-confidence, to be debated on Wednesday.
During the evening debate, as the members in the chamber hooted and jeered, the speaker gaveled the members to quiet, complaining of the “noisy and unseemly atmosphere.”
“The House must calm itself. Zen!” John Bercow shouted.
Before the vote, May told Parliament that the choice was plain: support her imperfect, but practical, compromise deal — and the only one that Europe will abide, she stressed — or face the cliff edge of no-deal Brexit. May said that everyone who thought they could go to Brussels and get a better deal was deluding themselves.
But the vote was decisive.
May said she would reach out to members of Parliament to find out what Brexit deal, if any, they would endorse. Her office has been tight-lipped about what alternatives she might offer.
The debate in the chamber before the votes were cast was impassioned.
The rising Labour Party star David Lammy recalled how he had confronted his constituents who sympathized with the violence carried out by rioters in London in 2011. Now he said felt the same duty to confront his neighbors over Brexit.
“Why? Because we have a duty to tell our constituents the truth, even when they passionately disagree ,” Lammy said. “Brexit is a con, a trick, a swindle, a fraud.”
In an emotional speech, Geoffrey Cox, a Conservative lawmaker and the Attorney General, urged the chamber to back May’s deal to avoid legal uncertainties.
“You are not children in the playground, you are legislators — we are playing with people's lives," Cox said.
Historians scoured the past for comparisons for the scale of defeat.
Scholars had to go as far back as the 19th century to find a comparable party split and parliamentary defeat — to Prime Minister William Gladstone’s support for Irish home rule in 1886, which cut the Liberal Party in two.
“The events in Parliament today are really quite remarkable,” said Cambridge University political historian Luke Blaxill. “This doesn’t happen.” Meaning, usually British parties fight with one another in Parliament — but members don’t tear their own parties apart.
[Deal or no deal? Theresa May’s Brexit vote, explained.]
Outside Parliament on Tuesday, the scene was raucous as thousands of protesters on both sides, many in costumes, gathered to shout at each other — illustrating how unsettled and divisive Brexit remains more than two years after voters opted in a 2016 June referendum to leave the European Union. It was the largest balloting in British history.
Brexiteers banged drums and rang a “liberty” bell, while pro-E.U. demonstrators handed out “Bollocks to Brexit” stickers in Parliament Square beside two huge video screens set up for the live broadcast of the final speeches and the vote.
Jeff Wyatt, 54, a pro-Brexit voter, held aloft a placard that accused May of treason. Another man in the crowd suggested that the prime minister should face the executioner’s ax.
“For the first time in the history of my country, we’ve got Parliament against the people,” Wyatt said, gesturing at the Palace of Westminster.
Monika Wolf, 57, was clutching an E.U. flag and a Union Jack. She moved to Britain from Germany in 1981, and studied and raised her children here. In an ideal world, she said, Brexit would be stopped. She hoped to see “more statesmanship from the big parties — they both talk about bringing the country together, but so far they haven’t done anything at all to make that happen.”
Over the past weeks, with growing fervor, May has warned Conservative Party members of Parliament that they gambled all if they voted down her half-in, half-out compromise plan.
The British leader argued that rejection of her plan could bring about a fraught “no-deal” Brexit, loaded with financial risk. Or worse, she warned, opponents of Brexit could succeed in their drive to call for a second referendum on whether to remain in or leave the continental trading bloc.
The prime minister suggested that Brexit supporters might even lose that second vote and be saddled with a bitterly divided nation and the status quo.
“If we don’t vote for this agreement, then we risk playing into the hands of those who do not want Brexit to go ahead,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove told BBC Radio on Tuesday.
But frustration and anger over how May has handled the long, slow negotiations with Brussels has been mounting.
Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, spoke for many when she told the BBC, “Brexit is a complete cluster shambles.”
Financial Times columnist Robert Shrimsley wrote that it appeared May was hurtling toward “the most shattering rejection of any prime minister in modern times.”
He wrote, “It is a measure of the looking glass world of British politics that a crushing reverse on the most important piece of legislation the prime minister will ever introduce is discussed as a bump in the road rather than as the administration-ending loss it should be.”
Her supporters say May will not resign, despite the crushing defeat. They suggest instead that May might return to Brussels, to seek new concessions over the controversial provisions about the Irish border — or even attempt to reopen talks. It is also possible that she might seek negotiations among all parties in Parliament to see what kind of deal, if any, they could agree upon.
While all this plays out, proponents pushing for a second referendum to break the logjam will continue their efforts.
Rob Ford, a professor of politics at Manchester University, stressed that these were strange times. “Normally, if you were looking at a defeat of 50-plus votes on the number-one item on the government’s agenda, then that would be it. Game over. The prime minister would be gone and the government would probably fall immediately. But that’s clearly not going to happen,” Ford said.
“What Theresa May does now will become less and less relevant to what outcome we get. The key thing to be watching is what Parliament does next and what Labour does next,” he said.
In Brussels, heads were shaking in wonderment at the political chaos enveloping Westminster, and concern continued to grow about the deadlock.
E.U. diplomats who work on Brexit negotiations warned that they had nothing up their sleeve that could fundamentally shift the debate in Britain. And they said that May has yet to present them with a plan that she can guarantee would pass muster in her own parliament, leaving them puzzled about what precisely Britain wants more than two years into the process and whether they could offer anything to ease the deal over the finish line.
Although E.U. policymakers have said there would probably be some flexibility about the March 29 deadline for Britain’s exit from the E.U., any extension would have to be approved by leaders of all 27 remaining nations in the bloc, and there is little appetite to do so if it would do little to resolve the debate in Britain. Many capitals are bracing for a chaotic British exit and shifting their energies toward preparations to limit the damage.
Leaders said Tuesday that they would be happy to keep talking with May but that no radical changes were on offer.
“I do not think that there are any new solutions being put on the table that have nothing to do with what has already been negotiated and agreed,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters at a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... bacbe81cfb
Theresa May lost the Brexit vote because Brexit was a lie
May was tasked with negotiating a deal that neither she nor anyone else could deliver on.
Zack BeauchampJan 15, 2019, 6:00pm EST
UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images
UK Prime Minister Theresa May spent months negotiating a deal with the European Union on the terms of Brexit, Britain’s exit from the EU.
On Tuesday, the UK Parliament voted to reject the deal by a resounding 432-202 margin — the largest legislative defeat any prime minister has suffered in modern British history.
May’s defeat should dispel any illusion that there is a happy ending to the Brexit story. The truth of the matter is that the project that defined May’s premiership — negotiating a Brexit deal acceptable to both the EU and pro-Brexit legislators in her Conservative Party — was structurally impossible. The terms on which Conservative Brexiteers wanted to leave the EU were not acceptable to EU negotiators, and the compromises necessary to bring EU negotiators on board were not acceptable to Conservative Brexiteers. No amount of negotiating could address this dilemma.
May’s tenure in office — which appears likely to continue for some time, despite the Brexit deal’s devastating defeat — was premised on the lie that she could work out a Brexit deal palatable to all sides.
Now, in the clarifying light of this vote’s failure, it’s time to be honest. Barring a dramatic and unexpected change, there are two plausible outcomes to the Brexit drama. Either the UK exits the EU without a deal by the March 29 deadline, which virtually every expert agrees would result in economic catastrophe, or else the country pulls back from the brink and decides to remain in the EU.
These options aren’t what the Brexiteers promise, but it’s difficult to envision any other ones after the failure of May’s deal. To quote another famous Conservative prime minister: There is no alternative.
Theresa May was asked to turn a campaign of lies into political reality
Theresa May was not prime minister when the initial referendum on leaving the UK was held back in June 2016. Her predecessor, Conservative PM David Cameron, had supported staying in the EU. His gamble was that UK voters would vote to stay and the pressure to leave from Conservative hardliners and the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) would dissipate.
That’s obviously not what happened. The Leave campaign won principally by manipulating British xenophobia, but also by making a series of grandiose promises: Britain wouldn’t be hurt economically by quitting the EU’s common market; in fact, it would stand to regain hundreds of millions of dollars a week to spend on its health care system. Britain would have no problem getting out of shared EU regulations; Brexit would “take back control” of the legal system.
Some of those promises, like the health care spending numbers, were exposed as lies the day after the Brexit vote. But the British people had just voted to leave the EU to usher in utopia, and Theresa May was brought in to make that a reality.
To do so, she would need to thread a needle: somehow minimize the hit to the British economy by keeping as much access to EU markets as possible while simultaneously removing the UK from as many EU rules and regulations as possible to fulfill the “take back control” promise.
The problem was that there was a direct trade-off between these two goals. The EU negotiators didn’t want to allow Britain unfettered access to EU markets while it made its own rules on everything from immigration to product standards; that would be giving them a better deal than EU members. So there needed to be some kind of compromise.
The deal that Parliament voted on Tuesday was full of such compromises. It punted on a lot of central issues, including immigration, but allowed the UK to leave while keeping enough EU rules in place to avoid immediate catastrophe.
But even this was too much for the pro-Brexit Conservatives, who believed May was selling out to the Eurocrats. Their most heated objections focused on the so-called “Irish backstop,” a complicated provision designed to keep the border between the Republic of Ireland (an EU member) and British-controlled Northern Ireland open indefinitely.
The Brexiteers believed the backstop would force the UK to adhere to a number of EU trade and migration regulations for years — and they had a point. The problem is that the backstop was nonnegotiable for Ireland and the broader EU, which refused to grant Britain the power to unilaterally screw up a very tense border arrangement in a part of the world that has been wracked by conflict as recently as 1998.
This is the specific issue, more than any other, that caused more than 100 Conservative legislators to betray their prime minister and vote with the left-wing Labour opposition to defeat May’s Brexit deal. But focusing too much on the Ireland situation would be a mistake. Remember, this deal didn’t even settle the UK’s final status on thorny issues such as migration from EU member states; it left that decision to future negotiators to decide. There were any number of different specific, technical issues on which May could not have satisfied the EU without betraying the Brexiteers, and vice versa.
The fundamental and insurmountable problem is that Brexit was premised on a fantasy — a painless withdrawal from the European Union — that no prime minister could have delivered. Theresa May is no one’s idea of a great negotiator, but her fundamental project — a negotiated settlement to the Brexit situation — was doomed for structural reasons beyond her control.
The honest choice: no deal or second referendum
The overwhelming defeat of May’s deal is clarifying.
The margin of defeat, the largest anyone can remember, means that no amount of tinkering at the edges with EU negotiators can fix the situation. Barring some kind of shocking development, the May deal is well and truly dead.
With this fantasy put to rest for the time being, it’s easier to see the plausible alternatives. One option is a no-deal Brexit, in which the trade and immigration rules governing Britain’s relationship with Europe simply cease to take place. The consequences of this could be pretty devastating; in the UK’s Prospect Magazine, deputy director of the British Influence think tank Jonathan Lis compiled 36 eye-popping ones:
Food will rot. We import about half of our food and feed, and 70 per cent of that comes from the EU. The bosses of Calais and Dover have warned of 30-mile tailbacks and possible infrastructural collapse. Experts have already warned that supermarkets will soon run out of supplies. (Hence the stockpiling.)
Also, Lis notes, commercial aviation would be crippled. “Aviation is currently governed by the Single European Sky, European Aviation Safety Agency and aviation single market,” he explains. “You fall out of those, and pilots and planes lose their certification overnight.”
If that doesn’t sound that bad, consider this: Bank of England projections suggest that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the British economy could be worse than the damage it suffered during the 2008 Great Recession. A no-deal Brexit would represent a historic catastrophe: an unnecessary, and entirely self-inflicted, economic crisis.
If this seems awful, and a negotiated settlement appears politically impossible, then there’s a third option: Britain just stays in the European Union.
Some members of Parliament in the opposition Labour Party have been pushing a people’s vote, a referendum on the final terms of Brexit that effectively represents a do-over of the first vote. There’s a lot of grassroots support for this among the British left and political center; polling suggests that 54 percent of Britons would vote to remain this time around.
Another, less plausible option would be for May to simply announce that she was for staying in the European Union and ask Parliament to vote to end the Brexit process (the initial referendum was not legally binding).
Realistically, either no deal or a second referendum is the most likely alternative. Sure, Britain and the EU could agree to postpone the March 29 Brexit deadline, but it’s not clear what future negotiations could accomplish. It’s been two and a half years since the Brexit vote, and no one has come close to figuring out how to resolve the fundamental tension between what British Brexiteers demand and what the EU can live with. Their best attempt just went down in flames.
Curiously, UK politicians appear to be in denial about this.
May — assuming she stays in office — has given no indication that she has a plausible plan for overcoming parliamentary opposition to her deal. Corbyn’s Labour Party is vowing to work on “securing a Brexit deal that would work for you” if given the top job. Never mind that there is no Brexit deal that would “work” for Brexit proponents and the EU; Corbyn, who, unlike much of his party, appears to sympathize with the Brexit project, stolidly refuses to entertain the idea of a second referendum.
The entirety of Britain’s leadership class seems to be obsessed with securing something impossible. If any good comes of today’s vote, it’s that some Britons might wake up to the reality of the situation.
https://www.vox.com/world/2019/1/15/181 ... heresa-may
Peter Jukes 17th January 2019
Is Boris Johnson Betraying Britain with his Bannon-Style Paranoia about the DEEP STATE?
Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson speaking at the Pendulum Summit at the Dublin Convention Centre.
In the chaos of Brexit, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has revealed his alliance with Breitbart editor and Cambridge Analytica founder Steve Bannon. But the FBI is coming and Johnson is playing with fire.
During the Parliamentary debate on the day of the ‘meaningful vote’ over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Boris Johnson warned that failure to withdraw from the EU would lead people to conclude “there is a plot by the deep state to frustrate Brexit”.
‘Deep State’ is not a natural political reference for politicians in the UK but it was clearly not a casual one for the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He had used almost the same words the day before during an LBC interview about the backlash if a full Brexit wasn’t delivered:
I think they will feel that there has been a great conspiracy by the deep state of the UK, the people who really run the country
This invocation of the ‘deep state’ conspiracy is telling. The phrase is an American import often used to defend US President Donald Trump against mounting evidence of Russian collusion, the subject of a two year long investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Though it has already led to dozens of indictments and the jailing of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, to Trump defenders the Mueller investigation is the most obvious example of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy led by the liberal elite. The line is regularly deployed by ‘Alt Right’ channels like Alex Jones’ Infowars and was even repeated by President Trump himself who railed against the “Deep State Justice Department”.
But how did this Trumpian phrase make its way across the Atlantic into the rhetoric of the would-be Tory leader and successor to Theresa May?
Bannon’s Problems with the Deep State
There’s little doubt Boris Johnson was inspired in his deep state rhetoric by Steve Bannon, the campaign manager who succeeded the now imprisoned Paul Manafort.
The depth of Johnson’s friendship with Bannon has been underestimated. They reportedly first met when Bannon was in the White House in early 2017 and have been in contact ever since. Though Bannon has been close to Nigel Farage for many years — and more recently has praised far-right activist Stephen Yaxley Lennon (AKA ‘Tommy Robinson’) — this summer he said that Johnson “would be a great prime minister” and should challenge Theresa May.
So it’s Bannon who would have inspired Johnson to deploy the conspiracy theory. Though he prefers calling it the ‘administrative state’ Bannon’s Breitbart websites pushed it constantly when he was in charge. The Brexit version was deployed only a few days before Johnson’s Parliamentary intervention by Breitbart London regular James Delingpole.
“The Remainer Establishment — or Deep State, if you prefer — is… so arrogant, so complacent, so contemptuous of the public that it’s scarcely bothering even to hide its tracks.”
But so what? What if Johnson borrows from the populist playbook of Trump’s campaign strategist?
The problem for Boris Johnson is that Steve Bannon is a key subject of the FBI investigation into interference by another more hostile deep state – that of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And the former Foreign Secretary knows all about it.
Bannon and Cambridge Analytica
As a famous populist trying to build a right-wing nationalist global ‘movement’ Stephen Bannon is often invited on British TV or newspaper events as a controversial but important voice.
However, Bannon’s role as vice president and co-founder of the now defunct Cambridge Analytica is rarely scrutinised, although it was that company’s role in Trump’s election which is a key focus of Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russian influence operations.
Having taken over the Breitbart websites in 2012 with the backing of billionaire hedge fund owner Robert Mercer, Bannon turned his attention to the UK a year later.
In late 2013, just as he was recruiting Raheem Kassam, Milo Yiannopoulos and James Delingpole to a new site Breitbart London, Bannon was setting up Cambridge Analytica with the SCL Group, a psy-ops and communications company contracted by the Ministry of Defence and with X-List access to secret documents.
Steve Bannon at the Young Britons Foundation 10th Anniversary Conference with Raheem Kassam (left) and Harry Cole (right). ICL created a Cambridge office nearby for Bannon
Bannon likes to describe his polemical right-wing publishing ventures as his ‘weapons’ and there is mounting evidence Cambridge Analytica’s microtargeting and psychometrics were weaponised in alliance with his news site. Cambridge Analytica was an exclusive reseller of Breitbart data, and the principle of ‘information operations’ – as revealed by former head of research Chris Wylie – was not to bombard targets with ads or obvious propaganda, but change the reality around potential voters with misinformation and ‘fake news’.
Since it was closed down last year, Cambridge Analytica has pleaded guilty to data crimes and remains the subject of the biggest investigation ever by the UK’s Information Commissioner after it was revealed it used hacked data from over 70 million Facebook users.
Before it became the main electioneering arm of Trump’s presidential campaign, Cambridge Analytica claimed it played a crucial role in Brexit. Its Canadian offshoot, AIQ, was the main beneficiary of the spending by the official Vote Leave campaign. Boris Johnson was the most high profile member of Vote Leave.
Cambridge Analytica executive, Brittany Kaiser, was present at the launch of Nigel Farage’s alternative Leave EU campaign, and after the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory, both the company and campaign boasted of working together, and that Brexit was a ‘petri dish’ for Trump.
Bannon’s role in all this cannot be ignored. It was central. This was acknowledged by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage on the Breitbart website after the Brexit vote, as he raised a pint of beer and said.
“Well done, Bannon. Well done, Breitbart. You helped with this. Hugely.”
Though Farage’s Leave EU backer Arron Banks subsequently denied ever having worked with Cambridge Analytica, an invoice obtained via Byline by the Observer last year revealed services worth over £40,000 performed by the electioneering company for UKIP.
But the redacted address for the payment was not Cambridge Analytica’s London base, but Steve Bannon’s LA-based company Glittering Steel.
Cambridge Analytica and Putin’s Hybrid Warfare
While Bannon’s role in Brexit has been largely concealed, Johnson will not be able to avoid the likely progress of Robert Mueller’s investigation in the company’s possible collusion with Putin’s intelligence services.
There are at least seven threads which link Bannon’s information operations to Russian cyberwarfare during the Trump election campaign:
The ICO has evidence that Russian servers accessed Cambridge Analytica’s extensive targeting data
Cybersecurity expert Chris Vickery has found many more Russian links in Cambridge Analytica data.
Cambridge Analytica worked on electioneering data with the Putin controlled petroleum company Lukoil.
The Cambridge academic who accessed the psychometric data went on to work at St Petersburg University, studying the ‘dark triads’ of internet trolling.
Cambridge Analytica’s CEO offered to help Julian Assange distribute the Democratic Party emails hacked by Russia’s military intelligence
Sam Patten, who worked on Cambridge Analytica microtargeting in the US, formed a company with Konstantin Kilimnik, believed by the FBI to be Manafort’s Russian intelligence contact.
General Michael Flynn, still awaiting sentencing for hiding his Russian contacts from the FBI, became a Cambridge Analytica consultant during the Trump campaign.
These lines of inquiry have been given more urgency by the recent revelations from Paul Manafort’s defence papers that he passed crucial voter data to a Russian agent and was focused on the US states Wisconsin and Michigan.
These marginal states, which Trump surprisingly won and paved his way to the White House, were targeted by both Putin’s Troll Farm (the Internet Research Agency) AND Cambridge Analytica.
The overall arc of Mueller’s investigation begs the overwhelming question: did Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica work in tandem with Russia in the 2016 elections?
What Johnson Must Know about Trump and Bannon
If anyone knows what the ‘deep state’ of the UK is up to, it should be Boris Johnson – an alumnus of Eton and Oxford, a former editor of the Spectator, lead Telegraph columnist and former Mayor of London. But it’s his last official role as Foreign Secretary from July 2016 to July 2018, when his alliance with Bannon flourished, which really puts Johnson on the spot.
These two years are the key phases of the alleged Trump campaign collusion with Putin – a campaign supervised first by Manafort and then by Bannon who continued as key figure through the transition period, and into the White House.
As Foreign Secretary Johnson must have been briefed on these matters of urgent national interest and the potential foreign subversion of Britain’s biggest ally.
The head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) reports directly to the Foreign Secretary. It was a dossier written the former chief of MI6’s Russian desk, Christopher Steele, which has provided a road map for FBI Counterintelligence and the Mueller inquiry into Trump and Putin. Even if Johnson had no intelligence briefings prior to Trump’s election, he would have certainly been taken through the evidence when the Steele dossier was published by Buzzfeed in January 2017.
Day-to-day responsibility for GCHQ also belonged to Johnson during this time at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the signals intelligence agency was one of the first to become aware of suspicious “interactions” between Trump and Russian agents. When the White House accused GCHQ of spying on Trump on Obama’s orders, the intelligence agency was forced to issue a rare rebuke. Such a high profile issue must have been discussed at the most senior levels.
There are various other UK based strands of the Mueller inquiry Boris Johnson should also have been briefed about.
The FBI inquiry into Russian connections to Trump began in London in May 2016 when a member of Trump’s national security team, George Papadopolous, started boasting that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” to the Australian Ambassador in a Kensington bar.
When Papadopolous’ indictment for lying to federal agents was revealed in the summer of 2017 more British connections became clear. It was in London, working for a Maltese born Professor, Joseph Mifsud, when Papadopolous was first approached about the Russian dirt on Clinton, with promises of an introduction to the Russian Ambassador in London and a relative of Vladimir Putin.
(The Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko had — at that time in 2016 — been in regular meetings for over six months with Arron Banks, the major donor to the Leave EU campaign, where – as revealed by Carole Cadwalladr and myself – they had been discussing gold and diamond mine privatisation deals.)
Papadopolous has since told me he met with Tobias Ellwood, a Ministry of Defence minister, on “numerous occasions”.
Boris Johnson pictured at a 2017 dinner with the ‘London professor’, Joseph Mifsud (left) and Prasenjit Kumar Singh.
Meanwhile, as I revealed on Byline and Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer Joseph Mifsud was boasting as late as October 2017 that he was meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss ‘Brexit’. Photos of the meeting soon were soon found on Facebook.
This meeting with Mifsud was brief and probably innocuous. But when it comes to his years-long alliance with Steve Bannon, Boris Johnson cannot be so innocent.
The Questions Boris Johnson Must Answer
Even if, because they have not been properly covered by media in the UK, Johnson could claim doubt about Bannon’s role in Brexit, he will not be able to avoid the conclusions of the Mueller inquiry and the role of Bannon and Cambridge Analytica in Trump’s campaign. Many of them cover incidents which coincide with both his position in charge of two of Britain’s intelligence services and his growing friendship with Bannon.
Mueller’s report will conclude that the main conspiracy in the US 2016 elections involves the Russian state and Vladimir Putin, and likely collusion with Trump officials. The exchange of data between Cambridge Analytica and Russia will probably feature. His reports or future indictments may well provide more evidence of the Kremlin’s interference in the EU referendum and leads to collaborators this side of the Atlantic.
If any of those happen, where will Johnson’s invocation of the deep state conspiracy theory take him?
The kindest explanation for his taking up Bannon’s rhetoric is that Johnson is willing to use any populistic tactic to boost his career, even if that means undermining the civil service, law enforcement and intelligence services at home and abroad. That’s not a great look for a would-be Prime Minister.
But there is a darker possibility. In the US, the ‘Deep State’ trope has been used to discredit Mueller’s findings even before they are published. Is there a chance Johnson knows what’s coming, and how it implicates figures around Brexit, and is getting the defence in advance?
Byline Times has approached both Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood and Boris Johnson MP for comment but has so far received no reply
https://bylinetimes.com/2019/01/17/is-b ... eep-state/
BREAKING: Mueller Looks to London – How Roger Stone’s Arrest by the FBI spells Trouble for Nigel Farage and Brexit
Peter Jukes 25th January 2019 America, Foreign Affairs, Mueller Investigation, Reportage
LONDON – After a dawn raid on his house in Florida on Friday morning, Trump advisor and veteran campaigner Roger Stone was indicted on seven counts including obstructing justice, false statements and witness tampering over his contact with ‘Organisation 1’ – Wikileaks, which helped to distribute documents hacked by Russian military intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The main reason London figures in this indictment is the constant stream of communications attempted between Stone and Julian Assange, resident in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Two go-betweens are described as intermediaries between Stone and Assange:
On or about September 30, 2016, Person 2 sent STONE via text message a photograph of Person 2 standing outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where the head of Organization 1 was located.
Person 2 is Randy Credico, the New York-based radio host.
Radio Host Randy Credico outside the Ecuadorian Embassy
Also referred to is a UK-based ‘associate’ in the communications between Stone and another go-between – Person 1.
On or about July 25, 2016, STONE sent an email to Person 1 with the subject line, “Get to [the head of Organization 1].” The body of the message read, “Get to [the head of Organization 1] [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [Organization 1] emails . . . they deal with Foundation, allegedly.” On or about the same day, Person 1 forwarded STONE’s email to an associate who lived in the United Kingdom and was a supporter of the Trump Campaign.
Person 1 is Jerome Corsi, a correspondent for Alex Jones’ Infowars, and the author of the definitive book on the ‘Birther’ conspiracy (that falsely alleges Barack Obama is a foreign citizen), which helped launch Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2014.
His UK-based associate was Ted Malloch. In an email obtained by ABC, Stone wrote to Corsi on July 31 2016 – only nine days after the first batch of hacked documents were released – “Malloch should see Assange”.
Ted Malloch and Nigel Farage
A US academic and author based in the UK, Ted Malloch was detained by the FBI in March 2018 at Boston airport and subpoenaed by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel appointed to investigate Russian interference in the US presidental elections and possible collusion from the Trump campaign. Malloch had previously been named in congressional testimony as a key associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone:
MR. SIMPSON: And so, you know, some of it – so there’s – it really isn’t, I don’t think, that Cambridge is the nucleus. I think that it’s there’s some Bannon connections. I know there’s – and there’s some other Bannon Stone associates, a guy named Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, who was – is an American who was living over there and associating with UKIP and, I believe, is a significant figure in this.
Ted Malloch and Nigel Farage celebrating the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington
A long time associate of Farage, Malloch claimed to have helped “bring down the Soviet Union” and was tipped to be the US Ambassador to the European Union.
Nigel Farage and Roger Stone
Nigel Farage’s connections to the Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russian hackers do not end with Malloch.
He has been named as a ‘person of interest’ to the FBI. He was caught visiting Julian Assange. His Leave.EU campaign lied about its many connections with the Russian Embassy inLondon, and even passed onto them confidential FBI documents after Farage’s aide George Cottrell was arrested in the US.
More significantly, Farage also met with Roger Stone during that crucial period when the alleged conspiracy to contact Wikileaks over hacked emails was in full force in the summer of 2016.
According to Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, Farage had a secret dinner with Roger Stone and Alex Jones during the Republican National Party Convention in Cleveland in July 2016. A member of the film crew who witnessed the meeting told Cadwalladr:
“It was the first time that Alex Jones, Roger Stone and Nigel Farage met face to face… What was so noticeable was how Alex Jones was so pumped up afterwards about the leaks that were coming. He was saying it openly on his show. And then days later, the DNC leaks dropped [on July 22] and blew apart the Democratic National Convention.”
(Carole explains the event in detail in discussion with Byline Times’ co-editor Peter Jukes in an episode of the Dial M for Mueller podcast.)
Nigel Farage has previously denied being a person of interest to the FBI and has not yet responded to requests to comment on the latest news about Roger Stone and Ted Malloch.
https://bylinetimes.com/2019/01/25/brea ... nd-brexit/
Theresa May's government could declare a state of emergency and introduce martial law under a no-deal Brexit
Thomas Colson Jan 27, 2019, 7:57 AM
UK Prime Minister Theresa May
The government is reportedly considering introducing martial law and declaring a state of emergency if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
There is growing concern that a no-deal Brexit could lead to civil unrest.
3,500 British troops have already been put on standby to cope with a possible no-deal EU exit.
LONDON - The government could introduce martial law and declare a state of emergency if it leaves the EU without a deal, according to a Sunday Times report.
The paper cited officials who said that the measures could be introduced if disorder arose from a disruptive no-deal exit.
The government's Cobra emergency committee would also be able to deploy the army to "quell rioting," the report said.
The measures reflect growing concerns that leaving the EU without a deal in place in March could lead to civil unrest and rioting.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed in December that 3,500 British troops had been put on standby to support government departments who were struggling to cope with the fallout from leaving the EU without a deal.
The government this month also issued an order which allows army reservists to be called up to support full-time troops in the event of a no-deal EU exit.
https://amp.businessinsider.com/uk-coul ... ort-2019-1
EXCLUSIVE: Senior Labour MPs Accuse Met Police of ‘Cover-Up’ and ‘Unacceptable Delays’ in Investigating Brexit Crimes
Criminal investigations into Leave campaigns still stalled amid allegations up to a dozen MPs in the frame.
The Met Police is facing accusations of a “cover-up” over its failure to decide whether leading Brexiteers should be subject to a criminal investigation amid allegations of illegality in the EU Referendum campaign.
MP David Lammy, a leading Labour Remain campaigner, told the Byline Times that the Met’s delay “smells more and more like it could be a cover-up from the very top”.
The Tottenham MP was joined by Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson who agreed that “this seems an unacceptable delay on a subject of national interest and importance”.
“This smells more and more like it could be a cover-up from the very top”
David Lammy MP
Their comments followed investigations by the Byline Times which revealed that Scotland Yard has still not decided whether to launch a full investigation into wrongdoing during the EU referendum which was first revealed two years ago. It also refused to confirm or deny that up to 14 senior political figures could become ‘persons of interest’ in any criminal inquiry.
A Litany of Stonewalling
Nine months ago, Leave.EU – the unofficial leave campaign during the EU Referendum – was fined £70,000 and its chief executive Liz Bilney referred to the Met Police by the Electoral Commission for over-spending.
Seven months ago, David Halsall, of the official leave campaign Vote Leave, and, Darren Grimes, founder of its youth off-shoot BeLeave, were also referred to the Met for false declarations of campaign spending.
“The wrongdoing alleged here is too serious to be swept under the carpet”
Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Back in November, a Scotland Yard spokesman admitted to Open Democracy that “political sensitivities” had stalled a formal investigation being launched into the EU Referendum campaigns.
This week, after nearly two weeks of repeated calls and emails by the Byline Times to the Met Police press office, a spokeswoman revealed that it has still not decided whether to launch a formal criminal investigation into the Electoral Commission’s referrals. Scotland Yard also refused to confirm or deny that up to 14 senior political figures could be under investigation.
Both Lammy and Watson’s comments echo increasing concerns that Scotland Yard is attempting to delay any investigation until after Britain exits the EU on March 29 – for the sake of political expediency.
“Police must deal decisively with political corruption”
Tom Watson MP called for a public inquiry into Russian interference in the EU referendum at the Byline Festival, in August 2018
The Met’s foot-dragging has echoes of the phone hacking scandal, when it took Scotland Yard five years to properly investigate the evidence they possessed of systematic surveillance at the News of the World.
“In relation to both referrals, subsequently on 7 September 2018, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) received over 2,400 documents from the Electoral Commission, which are being assessed by the MPS in order to make an informed decision as to whether a criminal investigation is required,” a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said.
Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson told Byline Times: “I’m sure the Metropolitan Police will want to explain why there is a delay and reassure us that they are not avoiding investigating because of political sensitivities.
“The wrongdoing alleged here is too serious to be swept under the carpet.”
Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, agreed. He told the Byline Times that he expected the police “to move quickly against the ‘people of interest’ and deal decisively with political corruption”.
Lammy added: “It is extraordinary that the police continue to delay starting a criminal investigation into what the Electoral Commission deemed ‘clear and substantial’ evidence of illegal activity by Vote Leave many months ago.
“Postponing this investigation until after Britain has left the EU may be politically expedient for the Government, but it is clearly against the national interest.
“The independence of law enforcement is vital to uphold the rule of law in our democracy. Unfortunately, it is now being questioned.”
The MP repeated his belief that the 2016 Referendum result should be considered “invalid” if leading Brexiteers are convicted of illegal activity.
Files “immediately referred” to the Met
Scotland Yard also dodged the question of whether three separate investigations – into the Vote Leave, Leave.EU and BeLeave campaigns – had been merged into a single probe.
The Electoral Commission has said it concluded its two investigations last May and July and that it “immediately referred” the “responsible person for each organisation” to the Met.
“At the same time, we informed the police of the referrals and explained that the evidence was ready to pass to them,” a Commission spokesman said. “The police asked for our files in late August and collected them within three weeks.”
The Commission said it is “entirely a matter for the police to determine what they do with the documents that we have provided”.
The Met Police has been contacted for further comment.
https://bylinetimes.com/2019/02/14/excl ... it-crimes/
Brexit: Article 50 extension would lead to 'humiliation' for UK, says Eustice as he resigns as minister - Politics live
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/li ... itics-live
UK farming and fisheries minister quits over Brexit delay
George Eustice says he would still back Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
By CHARLIE COOPER 2/28/19, 4:01 PM CET Updated 2/28/19, 4:11 PM CET
LONDON — U.K. Farming and Fisheries Minister George Eustice resigned over Theresa May's decision this week to clear a path for Brexit to be delayed.
In his resignation letter, Eustice said that if parliament votes for a delay, it could lead to the EU "dictating the terms of any extension requested and the final humiliation of our country."
However, he said he would still back Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement when it returns for a vote in the House of Commons by March 12.
Eustice, who backed Leave at the 2016 referendum, said that the U.K. should be prepared to leave without a deal and negotiate with the EU afterward.
"We must be ready to face down the European Union here and now," he said. "The absence of an agreement poses risks and costs for them too. We already know that in the event of 'no deal' the EU will seek an informal transition period for nine months in many areas and settlement talks could continue within this window."
On Tuesday, Theresa May said that, if her deal is rejected for a second time, the House of Commons would have a vote on whether to leave with no deal on March 29. If it rejects that option, it would have a vote on whether to extend the Article 50 negotiating period for a short period of time, delaying Brexit.
https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-farm ... xit-delay/
How Brexit Britain Managed to Lose All of Its Friends
Theresa May’s original negotiating stance didn’t help, but even the U.K.’s most euroskeptic allies have other reasons to toe the Brussels line.
March 1, 2019, 1:45 AM CST
The only thing that unites the European Union is Brexit.
The sight of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a self-professed “best friend” to Britain, berating Theresa May’s Brexit strategy this week was telling. Even at a time when France and Italy are at diplomatic loggerheads, Viktor Orban is painting the European Union as a menace to society, and Ireland’s Big Tech-friendly tax model is under fire from the European Commission, the bloc’s 27 member states have more or less stuck together in talks with the U.K. They’ve certainly toed the negotiating line laid down by Brussels.
All of this matters as Theresa May considers requesting a possible delay to Brexit. Given that she would need the unanimous support of EU leaders, there will be strings attached.
May has used up a lot of goodwill over the past two years. She kicked off negotiations with unpleasant hardball tactics, misjudged Britain’s ability to extract trade terms with the EU that were just as good as being a member, and pressured other leaders to sign off on a draft deal in November that she herself has undermined since.
Her January promise to return to Brussels and renegotiate an Irish border provision that she’d only just agreed enraged many in the EU capital. Philippe Lamberts, an member of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, told me afterwards that the U.K.’s unreliable behavior demonstrated exactly why the Irish backstop was needed, and that European unity would hold. It has.
It’s pretty damning that the U.K. has failed to build any coalition within the EU that might help sway crucial votes or support its case. Core members like Germany and the Netherlands – despite facing respective hits of 8 billion euros ($9.1 billion) and 4 billion euros to yearly exports if Britain crashes out without a deal – were quickly alienated by the U.K.’s logic-defying demands for preferential access to a market that it wanted to leave without stopping it from signing its own free-trade deals.
And while smaller pro-British countries such as Poland and Hungary have been among the country’s most outspoken supporters, they’ve consistently defended the indivisibility of the single market and their own citizens’ rights. As net beneficiaries of EU funds, they have good reason to stick to the Brussels script.
The central and eastern states that might have found common ground with Britain as a tough ally against Russia and a check on the dominant euro-zone countries like France and Germany have failed to rally to its cause on Brexit. Faith in the broader NATO umbrella has probably outweighed fears that Britain will drift away from military cooperation into isolationism. Most are driven by fears of being left behind by closer EU integration rather than inspired by Britain’s break for freedom. Poland’s criticism of the Irish backstop found little endorsement in the region, according to European policy academic Monika Brusenbauch Meislova, highlighting May’s forlorn task in trying to find cracks in the EU’s united front.
What happens next? As the debate moves from the terms of Brexit to whether Europe will allow May a few months delay, European unity is likely to hold, according to Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European Studies at Oxford university. If there’s evidence that this will help get May’s withdrawal deal over the line, much will depend on Germany, where lawmakers have expressed support for an extension of a few months. But if May takes negotiations to another “no deal” cliff edge after that, her isolation may prove fatal to her own political career.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/artic ... nd=opinion
Brexit and Trump are the Same Crime: The Carole Cadwalladr Interview
We are thrilled to welcome Carole Cadwalladr to Gaslit Nation. Carole is an investigative journalist who breaks major stories on the Kremlin and Mercer-backed Brexit vote, revealing a cast of nefarious characters that were also behind the election of Donald Trump. Her brave reporting, which won her the Orwell Prize and makes her a target of hit pieces, has uncovered the growing vulnerability of elections in a time of kleptocracy.
Here's a look at just some of her stories:
British insurance businessman Arron Banks, the largest backer of Brexit and in UK political history by far, donating over 8 million GBP, has some interesting Kremlin connections: "Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection"
A look at Cambridge Analytica, the militarized propaganda firm that drove both the Brexit and Trump elections: "The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked"
How Facebook played a destructive role in Brexit: "Our Cambridge Analytica scoop shocked the world. But the whole truth remains elusive"
Just like with Trump, there's a transnational crime syndicate that disrupted democracy in the UK, and major media, social meda corporations, and impotent officials are complicit. The evidence uncovered just so far is so damning that the UK deserves a second referendum on Brexit, as has been demanded by the growing grassroots movement known as The People's Vote.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been largely silent on Kremlin meddling in the Brexit vote. That may be the work of Corbyn's chief strategist Seumas Milne, an infamous and shocking supporter of the Kremlin's propaganda on everything from Ukraine (Russia's invasion is the West's fault and Russia's Crimea "referendum" on Ukrainian soil is perfectly legal!), Assad's mass-murdering of Syrians, and sympathy for Maduro in Venezuela despite widespread famine and a growing refugee crisis.
All this and more are discussed in our interview with Carole, the closest thing the UK seems to have at the moment to a Robert Mueller.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests