The Brexit thread

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:13 pm

Hiya iamwhoiam, sorry for the late reply. I've been utterly stunned over the last week by the scale of the Grenfell Tower disaster. This looks like it could be bigger (in terms of deaths, once the full number is known) than Hillsborough, the Zebrugge ferry disaster, maybe even than Lockerbie. The biggest disaster on British soil in my lifetime. I won't go into the social and political implications of it right now, since we could well be talking about it for the next forty/fifty years (provided things don't get drastically worse in the interim).

Also felt it would be a bit tasteless for me to be getting on my hobby horse about Scottish nationalism at this time, with Manchester and the two London attacks as well.

That was what I meant though. Scottish nationalism, generally defining itself as left-wing and civic in opposition to the (more commonly) right-wing and ethnocentric British version. Of course there are varieties and degrees within both forms, but it was Scottish nationalism I was referring to - which in spite of it's left-wing nature is not (I'm pretty sure) part of anyone's masterplan to bring about "cultural Marxist dhimmitude" or whatever. You probably knew all that already, just stating it for the record.

Iamwhomiam » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:17 am wrote:I was astonished when Scots voted to remain after offered their independence.

I found the result perfectly believable (unfortunately), but also infuriating.

It's been even more infuriating to watch what has happened since. All the things that we were threatened with to dissuade us from voting for independence (loss of EU membership and single market access, loss of the UK's AAA credit rating, loss of value in the pound Sterling, rising inflation pushing up mortgage rates, business disinvestment and bank relocations, loss of civil service jobs, oil industry going unsupported by Govt, Clyde shipyards going without work) has happened while we remain a part of the UK.

Just as I knew they would.

On the plus side, Brexit is looking like a roaring success so far. :lol:
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:28 pm

Rory » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:49 am wrote:Liverpool Riverside voted Labour with ~85% of the vote last night. They still to this day don't read the Sun.

A great bunch of lads, the Liverpudlians. Always have been. Did it have anything to do with Andy Burnham's personal vote (I don't know if Riverside is his constituency)? He is the least-bad Blairite, might not actually be a Blairite at all, I think he actually likes Corbyn but got peer-pressured into opposing him (now and then, half-heartedly).

Thanks for the info btw, I didn't know about that impressive vote share.

I saw someone over on Reddit the other week trying to give David Cameron credit for the Hillsborough inquiry, as one of the achievements of his tenure. Had to remind them that Cameron once referred to the victim's families as being like a “blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there”.

We all know just how little he knew now.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:23 am

Did it have anything to do with Andy Burnham's personal vote.

Fuck me, that's embarassing. Sorry. He's the Mayor of Manchester, eh? So it's pretty unlikely that his personal vote had any effect on the results in Liverpool.

I suppose he could commute though...

Why do I associate him with Liverpool and Hillsborough? Have I got him mixed up with somebody else? Ah... he got a rough reception at Anfield once, at a memorial for the 96, where the crowd took exception to his grandstanding.

Clearly I mistook blatant disdain and mockery for love and respect again, like in my first marriage.
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby hanshan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:50 am


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

AhabsOtherLeg say...

Clearly I mistook blatant disdain
and mockery for love and respect again,
like in my first marriage.

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:55 pm

Could the Arron Banks Scandal Kill Brexit?

A criminal investigation into the millionaire donor behind the Leave.EU campaign is raising questions about the legitimacy of the referendum, itself.

Isobel Thompson
November 8, 2018 6:08 pm

Aaron Banks in London.
Aaron Banks in London.
By Lucy Young/REX/Shutterstock.
While the American news media have been consumed with the caravan, the midterm elections, the post-midterm post mortems, and the latest drama at the Justice Department (the caravan, not surprisingly, has suddenly ceased to be news), across the Atlantic, a different sort of scandal was making headlines. On Tuesday, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office found that Cambridge Analytica, the political-consulting firm established by right-wing activist Steve Bannon and backed by billionaire Robert Mercer, violated British law when it harvested data from up to 87 million Facebook users to help elect Donald Trump. The firm would have faced a substantial fine, had it not already declared bankruptcy and shut down last May.

Still, the fallout is only just beginning. The I.C.O., which had a broad mandate to investigate the use of data analytics for political purposes, ruled that Eldon Insurance, a firm owned by Brexit champion Arron Banks, also broke British law when it sent a Leave.EU newsletter to Eldon clients, and more than a million e-mails to Leave.EU supporters containing Eldon Insurance marketing. Banks has said he gave £8 million ($10.4 million) to the Nigel Farage–run Leave.EU, thought to be the largest political donation in British history. While Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU face fines of £135,000 (roughly $177,000) for the privacy breaches, the report dismissed speculation that Leave.EU covertly worked with Cambridge Analytica during the referendum campaign. Such a deal was discussed but not brokered, it concluded.

The I.C.O. report may be only the beginning of Banks’s troubles. On Saturday, The Observer and OpenDemocracy both reported on allegations by employees at Eldon and another Banks-run company, Rock Services, that they had been pressured to work on Leave.EU and other like-minded initiatives, despite Banks’s prior testimony that he kept his pro-Brexit campaigning and his business operations distinct. Under British electoral law, if campaigns coordinate, they must declare their spending together. According to a March 2016 e-mail chain leaked to The Observer, however, it appears that employees at both companies worked on various aspects of the Leave.EU campaign, including advertisements depicting refugees in a negative light. “I made it absolutely clear that I didn’t want to work on the political stuff,” one former Eldon worker told the paper. “I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t want to be complicit in it. There were quite a lot of spats about it. People were frozen out if they refused to work on it.” Another said, “Some of these images were really horrible, the immigrants and refugee stuff. But there were always these urgent requests coming in. You were told to stop what you were doing and do something for Leave.EU.”

Damian Collins, the chairman of Parliament’s fake-news inquiry, told The Observer, “If Eldon employees were being paid to work on the campaign during the regulated period, it should have been a declared expense. We asked him directly if he’d used his insurance employees to work on the campaigns and he said they didn’t.” As OpenDemocracy makes clear in a long post documenting Banks’s past statements, if these allegations are true, Banks may have broken the law by presenting false evidence to a select committee—theoretically punishable by imprisonment or a substantial fine, if Parliament should decide to press the issue. (Banks continues to deny any illicit relationship between his political and business dealings.)

Both reports were released just days after the Electoral Commission concluded that, following a yearlong investigation, it suspected some of the funds Banks donated to the unofficial Leave.EU campaign came from an offshore company. Announcing a “number of criminal offenses” may have been committed, the National Crime Agency is now looking into multiple accusations of criminal wrongdoing. Banks, whose net worth has been the subject of dispute, also faces another allegation: that his unprecedented donation was funded by foreign—namely Russian—interests. Indeed, Banks originally claimed to have met with Alexander Yakovenko, Russian ambassador to the U.K., just once, for a “boozy six-hour lunch.” As the number of meetings and details mounted, it emerged that Russian contacts had offered the businessman several lucrative deals. According to an uncovered cache of e-mails, Banks was intrigued. “I am very bullish on gold so keen to have a look,” he reportedly wrote to Russian businessman Siman Povarenkin. Banks denied that he participated in any deal. “The idea that things were dangled as some sort of carrots for me to be involved with the Russians is very far-fetched,” he told The New York Times. “I wonder what the Russians wanted from me?” Despite Banks’s protestations, the tangled links between him, Farage, Trumpworld, and Russia have piqued the interest of special prosecutor Robert Mueller. (In a statement saying he welcomes an investigation by the National Crime Agency, Banks added: “Isn’t it funny that none of the financial contributions made by George Soros to British political campaigns are ever subject to any level of scrutiny by the Electoral Commission despite his being a foreign national.”)

Banks’s responses to the ongoing allegations have veered between savagery and mockery. When Carole Cadwalladr, who has broken the majority of this unfolding story, first started reporting on Brexit financing, she writes, Banks agreed to meet her: “You’re looking for a smoking gun, but there’s a smoking gun on every table!” he said. “And no one cares. No one cares!” As the net tightened, however, he became more bombastic, and more misogynistic, labeling Cadwalladr “a mad cat lady, a loony, a bitter ‘Remoaner,’ a lone conspiracy theorist, an enemy of the people,” and posting a video that shows her likeness beaten and being threatened with a gun to the soundtrack of the Russian national anthem.

If this sounds familiar, so too does the stance of Banks’s defenders, who portray him as a brilliant, bullish non-conformist. But of course, the multiple investigators eyeing Banks will have the last word. In the meantime, there is the question of whether further evidence of Brexit-related skulduggery could fuel the push for a second referendum. (“Should Brexit be halted for Arron Banks investigation?” asks The Week.) As lawmakers work to siphon the taint of alleged criminality from Britain’s democratic processes, Banks remains a stark reminder of Britain’s political divisions. “We may never know whether individuals were unknowingly influenced to vote a certain way in either the U.K. E.U. referendum or the U.S. election campaigns,” the I.C.O. commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, writes. “But we do know that personal privacy rights have been compromised by a number of players and that the digital electoral ecosystem needs reform.” ... ill-brexit

Revealed: How Arron Banks’s campaign ‘ambassador’ made his millions in Russia

Jim Mellon introduced Brexit ‘bad boys’ Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, and was a Leave.EU ambassador. He claims he hasn’t been involved in Russia since the 1990s. But our investigation shows he still has major financial exposure to Russian investments.

lead Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks. Image L-R: Master Investor, Michael Vadon, PA Images.

In early 1990s Russia, a lot of people died. Organised criminals and ex-Soviet officials fought vicious turf wars for control of industries and political power. And a man called Jim Mellon became fabulously wealthy.

Two decades later, Mellon toured his friend Nigel Farage around a number of potential major political donors. In late summer 2014, he introduced the UKIP leader to the insurance salesman Arron Banks. Within a few weeks, Banks had pledged a million pounds to the anti-EU party and, the next year, Mellon donated a reported £100,000 to, a forerunner to Banks and Farage’s Leave.EU campaign. Mellon was described as an “ambassador” for Leave.EU, and was scheduled to appear at Leave.EU’s launch.
Image, a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign., a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

Last week the National Crime Agency announced an investigation into Arron Banks and others linked to Leave.EU over suspected criminal offences committed in the Brexit referendum, after the Electoral Commission found there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of £8m in funding for the pro-Brexit groups he backed. This followed reporting from openDemocracy and others which raised pressing questions about how Banks could have afforded to become the biggest political donor in British history.

The UK parliament’s ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news has asked questions about Banks’s Russian links, and the Observer newspaper has revealed a string of connections between Banks and Russia. In notorious emails between Banks and the Russian embassy, Banks describes Jim Mellon as his business partner. But Mellon, the man who introduced Banks and Farage, has escaped much scrutiny – until now.

During the 2016 referendum campaign, a representative of Jim Mellon, Denham Eke said he had “not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s” and had “no relationship with Russia”.

However, an investigation by openDemocracy has revealed that firms in which Mellon has major interests have maintained close links with prominent Russian businessmen – and have profited significantly from decisions made by Vladimir Putin and his associates over the last 25 years.

Specifically, we have learned that:

- Firms linked to Mellon have continued to invest in Russia for over 25 years and adopted a strategy of investing in firms with “management close to Putin.”
- One fund linked to Mellon set up a new firm to buy Gazprom shares on the very day that Putin announced foreigners would be allowed to purchase them.
- The same Mellon-linked fund was selected to invest in Russia’s state diamond company as it was privatised.
- Mellon holds a stake in a bio-tech firm with labs in the Skolkovo science park in Moscow. The FBI have warned that Skolkovo is a front for industrial espionage activities.
- Firms linked to Mellon were involved in a number of deals with politically exposed Russian oligarchs including an ex-KGB officer, Andrey Pannikov, and Roustam Tariko, who sponsored the Miss World event in Moscow attended by Trump.
- Mellon invested £120,000 in a South London beauty salon run by a Russian ex-Alfa Bank employee.

Mellon highlights that he had no executive role in the firm with the most Russian connections – Charlemagne Capital – and says he was not directly involved in the investment decisions. However, he was a co-founder, non-executive director and major shareholder of the firm.

Mellon’s business partner Arron Banks is listed as the main funder of the Brexit campaign, claiming to have put £12m into Leave.EU and other anti-EU groups. However, as openDemocracy revealed last year, there are serious questions about how Arron Banks could have afforded to donate that amount of money to the Brexit cause. Banks claims he made all his money from his insurance businesses, saying “The Leave.EU campaign was funded by myself, Peter Hargreaves and the general public… allegations of ‘Brexit’ being funded by the Russians... are complete bollocks from beginning to end.”

There is absolutely no allegation that Jim Mellon is the source of Banks’ Brexit funding, nor that he has broken any law. But our investigation does reveal yet more connections between an important Leave.EU ambassador and Russia, including prominent Russians with close links to Putin.

Mellon has declined to provide openDemocracy with a comment on the record about any of the questions we put to him.

How did Mellon make his millions?
Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left). Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left). Image: Instagram.

During the chaotic privatisations of the early 1990s, Russian citizens were given vouchers which entitled them to buy shares in the privatised state companies. While the traditional Soviet economy collapsed, a violent black market thrived.

On an early visit to Russia, Jim Mellon talks of having to barricade the door of his hotel in Vladivostok where, just a week later, a New Zealander was “hacked to death”. After hiring bodyguards, he and his business partner, Jayne Sutcliffe, picked up suitcases of share vouchers for “little more than a bottle of vodka” and overnight transformed $2m to $17m.

Mellon then founded his investment business, Regent Pacific, and began to invest millions of pounds in Russia throughout the 1990s, taking large stakes in many of Russia’s biggest companies.

These days, Mellon is a resident of the Isle of Man, the offshore banking centre between the UK and Ireland which he says is “a good base to establish new businesses from a tax and regulatory point of view.”

It also means he is not eligible to vote in the UK. However, Mellon has provided tens of thousands of pounds to UK political causes from his UK-based companies, backing the Conservatives, UKIP and both Leave.EU and the official Vote Leave Campaign. This is all legal.

However, questions have always circulated about the extent of Mellon’s involvement in UK politics, his business career and ties to Russia.

Who is Jim Mellon?


Mellon, an Oxford-educated Scot, is the son of Sir James Mellon, a British diplomat who served in East Berlin before becoming ambassador to Denmark, High Commissioner in Ghana and Consul General in New York.

He began his career as an investment analyst in Hong Kong in 1979 before going on to found Thornton Management with former colleague Richard Thornton in 1984. When the firm was sold four years later, Mellon became a millionaire. He bought homes in Ibiza and the Isle of Man where he continues to live, and went on to found Regent Pacific in Hong Kong, which soon became one of the largest investors in the Russian market on the back of the share certificates he bought from “Russian housewives”.

In 1994, Mellon described privatisation in Russia as “the largest and fastest restructuring of an economy in human history”. By 1997, Bloomberg featured Regent Pacific in an article titled “The Bad Boys of Emerging Markets”. The firm had over $1.1 billion invested in Russia, and also ran its third largest brokerage house.

The same year, the company was listed as the second largest shareholder in Uralmash, a manufacturer of heavy engineering vehicles notorious for its connections to the Uralmash gang which fought a vicious turf war to control the city of Ekaterinburg.

Regent Pacific also took a stake in Lukoil, a company co-founded by Andrey Pannikov, an ex-KGB man who had been expelled for espionage from Sweden in 1988. Pannikov had obtained the first oil export license issued by Russia and had begun to foster close relations with Vladimir Putin, then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, whom he was rumoured to have financially supported.

Mellon and Regent Pacific also attracted the attention of the board of Gazprom, the state owned Russian gas company. At the time, there were only a limited number of shares available to foreign investors due to the Russian government’s policy of ensuring the company remained in Russian hands.

A parallel market was set up by Deutsche Bank to trade these stocks. Overseas investors could buy ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) from Deutsche which were actually packages of Gazprom shares deposited with the bank in Russia.

Predictably, the prices of locally traded shares and the ADRs widened: “Russian only” shares cost much less than the shares traded by western investors.

To exploit this difference, Regent Pacific set up a Russian company to buy Gazprom stock on the Russian market and then to sell units in this company to foreign investors. Mellon quickly raised $200m from western investors.

However, the scheme led to the Gazprom board voicing their disapproval of Regent Pacific’s methods. Mellon later told a reporter he decided to leave Russia, fearing he “might end up at the bottom of the Moscow River”. Following pressure from influential ministers and the Gazprom board, Mellon cancelled the scheme saying later, “We had too much at stake in Russia ... and I know when to walk away.”

Then, during the Russian financial collapse of 1998, Mellon’s funds dramatically collapsed in value, wiping out much of his investors funds. Regent Pacific had to lay off over 40 workers in their Moscow office. It seemed Mellon’s days in Russia were nearly over.

Putin’s Russia
Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong. Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong. Image: Google Maps.

However, by 2000 the Russian economy had begun to rebound – and so did Regent Pacific. Mellon and his business partner Jayne Sutcliffe split their funds into two companies, with Mellon running the Hong Kong-based Regent Pacific and Sutcliffe leading the London-based Charlemagne Capital, which focused on investments in Russia, and other east European emerging markets. This is the point at which Mellon’s spokesperson claims he severed his links with the country. But Mellon remained a major shareholder and non-executive director of Charlemagne, and his father took up a place on its board.

Yeltsin had been replaced by Vladimir Putin. The new leader appointed Medvedev, the current prime minister, to the board of Gazprom and began kicking out old Yeltsin appointees and replacing them with his own hand-picked men, such as Herman Gref, the now-sanctioned CEO of Sberbank.

Putin decided to relax restrictions on foreigners holding Gazprom stock. In a meeting on 30th October 2003, he gave his consent to the type of scheme Mellon had attempted to set up five years earlier.

According to the Russian website, on the same day Charlemagne Capital established a company called Novy Neft in Bermuda to purchase the new shares and raised $100m from investors within a fortnight. This was either enormously fast paperwork, or Charlemagne had prior knowledge of Putin’s announcement.

The scheme was enormously successful. A second fund, Novy Neft II, soon followed. Gazprom shares rose in value, both funds saw large increases in the values of their stocks and investors saw significant gains.

Russian diamonds, Trump, and Arron Banks
Arron Banks (second from the left). From left: Leave.EU campaigner Gerry Gunster; Arron Banks; Donald Trump; Nigel Farage; Andy Wigmore; Raheem Kassam, former adviser to Farage and former Editor in Chief of Breitbart UK (Twitter).

In 2013 and 2016, Charlemagne Capital was selected to participate in partial privatisations of Alrosa, the Russian state diamond company, and the second largest diamond producer in the world.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a now sanctioned Russian sovereign wealth fund run by Kirill Dmitriev, selected Charlemagne as an investor in 2013. Dmitriev has more recently been in the headlines for secret meeting with a Trump confidant, the Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, in the Seychelles during the US presidential election campaign.

In 2016, when there was another part-privatisation, Charlemagne was invited to participate again. Between the announcement of the sale and its completion, investors were only given five working days to subscribe to the shares, offered at a sharp discount to the government’s own valuation.

Mellon owned 40% of Charlemagne when it was established and continued to hold at least 20% of the business until 2016. His father, now in his late eighties, sat on its board from 2000 until its sale, although Mellon denies any involvement in the operation of the business or any knowledge of its investments.

The UK House of Commons Inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, which has released a report on the Brexit referendum campaigns, has highlighted the Alrosa deal as a point of concern, particularly as it was raised in emails between Brexit-backer Arron Banks and the Russian ambassador. Another deal floated by the Russians to Banks concerned the consolidation of a number of goldmines, and in emails seen by openDemocracy, Banks says “I’ve chatted to Jim Mellon who is my partner in the bank (Isle of Man based Manx financial). Jim has extensive interests in commodities.”

While Mellon denies knowing or having close ties to any Russian business or political figures, he does concede to having met the Russian ambassador to the UK on several occasions over the past few years. For this part, Arron Banks caused controversy when it transpired that he had in fact met the Russian ambassador eleven times, despite having long maintained he had only met him once.

Mergers in the Caribbean
Image: Trinity Exploration.

In 2012, two Trinidad and Tobago based oil firms merged: Bayfield and Trinity. Andrey Pannikov, the former KGB man with close ties to Putin’s inner circle, owned 20% of Bayfield. Jim Mellon’s firm Regent Pacific was a major investor in Trinity. Trinity had booked strong profits in 2011. Bayfield, however, was struggling, yet the two companies merged in a deal which seemingly made little sense for shareholders who were forced to accept large losses on their investments. Pannikov himself lost millions on his investment in Bayfield but was able to see the loss-making company salvaged by Trinity. Mellon admits the deal lost Regent Pacific £5m, and despite being a non-executive chairman and a major shareholder, he denies being personally involved and says he has never met Pannikov.

In the mid 2000s, Charlemagne Capital became one of the largest shareholders in the Central European Distribution Company, based in Poland. But the firm was hit hard by the 2008 crisis, and in April 2013 entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in order to restructure its debts. In the pre-packaged deal, over one third of the group’s debt was written off and Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko took ownership of the business. The New York Times called the deal an “exercise in stiffing shareholders”, but Charlemagne was able to exchange its equity for debt and salvaged 83% of the value of their investment. A rival offer from an Alfa Bank consortium put in a larger offer for the business, but strangely this seems to have been immediately rejected.

A few years later, Roustam Tariko sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow, where he had a neighbouring VIP box to its organiser, Donald Trump.

“Firms whose management is close to Putin”

Charlemagne Capital continued to invest heavily in Russia throughout the 2000s as Putin consolidated his grip on power. In 2003, Stefan Böttcher, a Charlemagne fund manager, described how the business had a policy of investing in “firms whose management is close to Putin.”

Mellon states that while he was a major shareholder in the business, he had no operational control and was not made aware of any investment decisions or strategies and thus had no involvement in or influence over the deals in Alrosa, Novy Neft, or the CEDC takeover. When the firm floated on the London stock market in 2006, Mellon reduced his shareholding from 40% to around 20%. The business boasted $4 billion in assets under management, which were mostly invested in Russia, and other east European countries.

Mellon also denies having ever met Andrey Pannikov or Roustam Tariko, but often meets Russians, including the ambassador to the UK, and personal friends at cultural and business gatherings.

“Lasers”, and Russian Intelligence

One such personal friend is Anna Saprykina, a former Alfa Bank employee who now runs a company called Body Silk in Hither Green, South London, which specialises in laser hair removal. Born in Russia, but with over 10 years spent in the UK, Saprykina is now a British citizen. A keen classical musician, she tells the story of how she and her sister were looking for investment to set up their business when they were introduced to Mellon at a concert in 2010.

Mellon invested £120,000 in the business. Eight years after it was established, it is currently for sale having racked up losses of £240,000. Saprykina, advertised the business as “ideal for a Tier One Entrepreneur visa” on her LinkedIn page.

Alfa Bank, Saprykina’s former employer, has been named as a conduit for Russian intelligence activities in multiple countries and is a focus of the Mueller investigation into ties between the Russian state and Donald Trump, although there is no suggestion that Saprykina has been involved in Russian intelligence.
Jim Mellon's Facebook

The ‘money fountain’

Mellon first met Banks when he invested in Conister Bank, an Isle of Man bank which Banks and his partners from Brightside insurance had recently been bought out of insolvency. The two men became business partners in the venture they would soon re-name Manx Financial.

Both Arron Banks and Mellon continue to hold significant stakes in Manx Financial and have also co-invested in other businesses together. It was from this relationship that Banks’s involvement in UK politics would grow as Mellon introduced him to Nigel Farage. The three men were reported discussing “other ways” of funding the then near-bankrupt UKIP to get around Mellon’s non-resident status according to a Telegraph report in 2013.

When openDemocracy (and others) have looked into Banks’ true wealth, we have not found evidence that he is as rich as he claims. With Mellon, however, there is little doubt that he has the trappings of a very wealthy man. He moves between luxury homes in Ibiza, Berlin and the Isle of Man on a private jet and gets the Brand New Heavies to play at his parties. But, given that most of his businesses are based in secretive tax havens, it is difficult to gauge whether Mellon is, as Canadian senators said in a report about another of his businesses, “in constant financial difficulty” or more correctly valued at £1 billion, as the Sunday Times Rich List reported this year.

There is no suggestion that Mellon is the ultimate provider of the disputed funding for Leave campaigns.

‘Living for 200 years’


Today Regent Pacific, Mellon’s Hong Kong based business, is moving into biotech. Mellon says humans can live for 200 years due to all manner of technological advances, and claims he knows which ones to invest in. He calls this ‘longevity science’, tells investors it’s a ‘money fountain’, and has even co-written a book about longevity, called “Juvenesence” and set up a business with the same name.

Once again, his recent foray has brought him into contact with well-connected Russians. One of the companies Mellon owns a stake in is the start-up Insilico medicine, which has 80% of its staff in offices and labs at the Skolkovo Foundation Science Park in Moscow.

The Skolkovo Foundation is the brainchild of Viktor Veskelberg, a sanctioned oligarch and close confidant of Putin. It has been described by the FBI as an attempt to conduct industrial espionage.

Mellon says that while he has visited the Skolkovo business park to see the Insilico Medicine operations, he has not had any interaction or meetings of any type with members of the Skolkovo Foundation, which often invests in businesses based on its campus, and points out that the firm is registered in the US and also has a base at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The Skolkovo park in Moscow. Image: Google.

“Snake in the grass”

Arron Banks, the self-styled ‘bad boy of Brexit’, has already been found to have misrepresented the extent of his connections with Russian officials and the value of his investments. As openDemocracy has repeatedly shown, major question marks hang over the true extent of the insurance tycoon's wealth. Our reporting has also revealed how he misled parliament about his business and political operations, and how he accessed data on millions of voters. In the midst of intense political rows over the Brexit negotiations, Banks has also openly threatened to rally Leave.EU’s supporters to unseat anti-Brexit Tories.

For all these reasons, the questions about how Arron Banks found the money to become the largest political donor in UK history are not merely historic. They urgently need answers. There is no evidence to suggest that Mellon himself is the true source of Banks’s Brexit funds. However, while his spokesman said that Mellon “had not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s”, our investigation shows that his financial exposure to Russian investments remains significant.

British parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have called for a Mueller-style investigation into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum. One of the most prominent voices demanding this is the Conservative MP Damian Collins, chair of parliament's ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news. Arron Banks last week month sent letters to all of Collins’s constituents calling him “a disgrace” and “a snake in the grass”, and urging Leave.EU supporters to “put his position into question by joining the Conservatives and applying pressure from within the party”.

Both Mellon and Banks have declined to respond on the record to any of the question we have put to them.

Help expose the dark money driving a hard Brexit

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New York Times confirms – Robert Mueller has obtained the records of Arron Banks’ communications with Russian officials ... banks.html


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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:28 pm

New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

Jane MayerNovember 17, 2018 7:07 PM
Steve Bannon
The possibility that Brexit and the Trump campaign relied on some of the same advisers to further far-right nationalist campaigns has set off alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic.
Photograph by Mark Peterson / Redux
For two years, observers have speculated that the June, 2016, Brexit campaign in the U.K. served as a petri dish for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in the United States. Now there is new evidence that it did. Newly surfaced e-mails show that the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and Cambridge Analytica, the Big Data company that he worked for at the time, were simultaneously incubating both nationalist political movements in 2015.

Emma Briant, an academic expert on disinformation at George Washington University, has unearthed new e-mails that appear to reveal the earliest documented role played by Bannon in Brexit. The e-mails, which date back to October of 2015, show that Bannon, who was then the vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, an American firm largely owned by the U.S. hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was in the loop on discussions taking place at the time between his company and the leaders of Leave.EU, a far-right nationalist organization. The following month, Leave.EU publicly launched a campaign aimed at convincing British voters to support a referendum in favor of exiting the European Union. The U.K. narrowly voted for the so-called Brexit in June, 2016. The tumultuous fallout has roiled the U.K. ever since, threatening the government of the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Bannon did not respond to requests for comment. But his name and private e-mail address appear on the chain of three e-mails in October, 2015, between Brittany Kaiser, the director of program development at Cambridge Analytica, and Arron Banks, who headed the Leave.EU campaign and referred to himself in the title of his memoir as one of “The Bad Boys of Brexit.” Banks could not be reached for comment regarding the e-mails, which were first published Saturday by the British Web site openDemocracy.

The precise role played by foreign entities in promoting and possibly funding Brexit has been clouded in mystery and controversy. British law forbids foreign contributions to its political campaigns—just as U.S. law bars foreign campaign contributions. The laws are designed to prevent international manipulation of domestic affairs. Executives working for Cambridge Analytica, which filed for bankruptcy this spring, have categorically denied that the firm was paid to do any work for the Leave.EU campaign. The new e-mails do not contradict that, but show that, even if the firm was not paid for its services, it laid some of the early groundwork for the Leave.EU campaign. The e-mails show that Banks and others in the Leave.EU leadership met with Cambridge Analytica executives in 2015, and discussed what Banks called a “two-stage process” that would “get CA”—Cambridge Analytica—“on the team.”

In an e-mail dated October 24, 2015, Banks also discussed tasking Cambridge Analytica with helping him raise funds through the U.S. for the Leave.EU campaign. In a note to the Cambridge Analytica executives with whom he had met, Banks wrote, “It’s clear that major donors are sitting on the fence, but we aim to do something about that.” Banks returns to the topic later in the note, adding, “We would like CA to come up with a strategy for fund raising in the states and engaging companies and special interest groups that might be affected by TTIP”—the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Banks did not address the potential illegality of direct foreign donations, but suggested a strategy that might circumvent the letter of the campaign-finance laws, if not their intent. Banks suggested enlisting Cambridge Analytica’s help in reaching out to Americans “with family ties to the UK.” Evidently, by targeting Americans with British relatives, the hope was that they could avoid campaign-finance-law violations. He suggested that Cambridge Analytica, which boasted of having access to two hundred and thirty million Americans’ voter-registration data, as well as other personal information, could be solicited “to raise money and create SM [social media] activity.”

The following day, a Cambridge Analytica staffer sent an e-mail back to Banks, again with Bannon included on the chain, suggesting that the firm was on board with the idea of developing a proposal that would include “US-based fundraising strategies.”

Whether foreign funds secretly supported the Brexit movement has become the focus of intense speculation and investigation in the U.K. The British probes, in many respects, are parallel to the Robert Mueller investigation of possible Russian support for Trump’s 2016 campaign. Banks has drawn particular scrutiny because his business spent some nine million pounds supporting the Brexit campaign, making him the country’s single largest political-campaign donor by far, despite questions about whether he had the personal wealth to contribute that much on his own. Banks has insisted that his contributions were legal, and that foreign sources, including Russia, contributed no funds. But multiple British agencies have launched inquiries, including a criminal investigation into Banks’s role by the National Crime Agency, the U.K.’s equivalent to the F.B.I.

Brittany Kaiser, the former executive at Cambridge Analytica whose name appears on the new e-mails, has since become something of a whistle-blower, exposing the company’s role in the Brexit campaign to the press. Reached through a spokeswoman, she declined to comment.

While the e-mail chain includes Bannon, there is no evidence that he read or commented on the exchange between the Leave.EU leaders and the Cambridge Analytica executives. In the fall of 2015, Bannon was busy setting up a new office for Cambridge Analytica in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., and pitching the firm’s services to Republican candidates, including Donald Trump. The firm initially worked for Ted Cruz’s Presidential campaign. But, when Trump won the Republican nomination, the Mercer family, which had financially supported Trump’s Presidential bid, insisted that Trump put Bannon in charge of the campaign and bring in Cambridge Analytica, in which the family was heavily invested, as well.

Executives at Cambridge Analytica claimed that they had access to unprecedented quantities of advanced “psychographic” data that enabled the Trump campaign to micro-target its pitch to voters. But, this past May, the company filed for bankruptcy in the wake of allegations—denied by Cambridge Analytica executives—that it had improperly obtained millions of people’s personal data from Facebook, without the users’ permission, in violation of the company’s regulations.

The possibility that both Brexit and the Trump campaign simultaneously relied upon the same social-media company and its transgressive tactics, as well as some of the same advisers, to further far-right nationalist campaigns, set off alarm bells on both sides of the Atlantic. Damian Collins, a member of Parliament, and chair of its Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which held an inquiry into fake news, told the Observer, which has broken much of the news about Cambridge Analytica in the U.K., that the new e-mails “suggest that the role of Bannon and Mercer is far deeper and more complex than we realised. There’s a big question about whether Mercer’s money was used in the Brexit campaign and it absolutely underscores why Britain needs a proper Mueller-style investigation. There are direct links between the political movements behind Brexit and Trump. We’ve got to recognise the bigger picture here. This is being coordinated across national borders by very wealthy people in a way we haven’t seen before."

The American investigations into foreign interference in Trump’s election, and British probes into Brexit, have increasingly become interwoven. The role of the Russian Ambassador to the U.K., Alexander Yakovenko, has reportedly been the subject of interest both to Mueller’s investigators and to those in the U.K., who have examined his relationship to Banks. The role of Nigel Farage, the former leader of the far-right, Euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, who has been an ally of Bannon and Trump, has also reportedly stirred the interest of investigators in both countries, especially after he was spotted in 2017 leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in which Julian Assange has taken refuge. Assange’s media platform, WikiLeaks, published many of the e-mails stolen by Russia from the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election season.

How and whether all of these pieces fit together is the subject of Mueller’s investigation, but the lack of a similar single, overarching investigation in the U.K. has led critics to call for one. Emma Briant, for instance, who has submitted the new e-mails to the British government for further investigation, told openDemocracy that “this evidence shows that Banks was seeking foreign funding for Brexit from the very beginning.” She argued that the U.K. inquiry, like the U.S. one, needed to follow the money and the potential manipulation of public opinion as nationalist policies rose on both sides of the Atlantic. ... ssion=true
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:19 am


From the team behind the No 1 Hit podcast, Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder, comes another inside story of a crime - in this case the hacking, data misuse, illegal financing and potential interference in the EU referendum. Orwell Prize-winning Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr lays out the evidence with Peter Jukes and asks: why hasn't the UK got a proper investigation into wrongdoing?

Season 1- Episode One:


A few days after the important news that Britain's biggest ever political donor is to be investigated by Britain's FBI, Carole and Peter sketch out some of the connections between the EU referendum vote, the election of Donald Trump, and the interference of Vladimir Putin. More psych ops dark ads and dark money to come.

Season 1, Episode Two -

How did Britain's Nigel Farage go from enjoying 'proper fucking lunches' with his mates in the City to hanging out with Trump? Boosted by Russia? And buddies with Bannon? In this episode, we explore his place at the centre of a web of relationships that connect to he man in Mueller's sights: Roger Stone
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:32 am

Law officer says UK can cancel Brexit

European Court of JusticeECJ
The case was heard by the full court of European judges last week
The UK should be able to unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU, according to a top European law officer.

The non-binding opinion was delivered by the European Court of Justice's advocate general.

A group of Scottish politicians has asked the court whether the UK can call off Brexit without the consent of other member states.

The Court of Justice (ECJ) will deliver its final ruling at a later date.

The advice from advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona comes as the House of Commons begins five days of debates on Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal, with a vote due to be held next Tuesday.

In a written statement, the ECJ said Mr Campos Sanchez-Bordona's opinion was that if a country decided to leave the EU, it should also have the power to change its mind during the two-year exit process specified in Article 50 of the EU treaty.

And it should be able to do so without needing the consent of the other 27 member states - contrary to what the EU itself has argued.

May prepares to open crunch Brexit debate
What happens if MPs reject Brexit deal?
Brexit: A really simple guide
While the advocate general's opinions are not binding, the court tends to follow them in the majority of its final rulings.

The anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners who have brought the case hope it will give MPs an extra option when considering whether to approve Mrs May's draft deal or not, because it could keep alive the prospect of calling off Brexit - potentially through another referendum.

The ECJ statement said the advocate general had proposed that the Court of Justice should "declare that Article 50 allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU".

It added: "That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded."

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March next year, but the deal negotiated with the EU has to be backed by a majority MPs if it is to come into force.

Welcoming the advocate general's opinion, SNP MEP Alyn Smith, one of those who brought the case, said it showed that "we now have a roadmap out of the Brexit shambles".

He said parliament was not necessarily facing a choice between accepting Mrs May's deal or leaving the EU with no deal, and that "there are other options, and we can stop the clock."

Who has brought the case?

A group of politicians brought the case including (from top left) Catherine Stihler MEP; Joanna Cherry MP; David Martin MEP; (from bottom left) Alyn Smith MEP; Ross Greer MSP and Andy Wightman MSP
A cross-party group of politicians and campaigners including Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and MP Joanna Cherry of the SNP, and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler brought the case together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project.

They initially took it to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, which ultimately agreed to pass it to the ECJ.

Two attempts by the UK government to appeal against the referral to the European court were rejected, and the case was opposed by the government and the EU institutions in a hearing before all 27 ECJ judges last week.

Can the UK parliament block Brexit?
Hubert Legal, the chief lawyer for the European Council, argued that allowing unilateral withdrawal could create "endless uncertainty" by allowing countries to announce they are leaving the EU in an attempt to secure better membership terms, before cancelling their withdrawal.

The UK government's lawyers argued that the case was purely hypothetical as "the UK does not intend to revoke its notification", and ECJ judges should therefore refuse to rule on it.

They added that the politicians behind the case wanted to use it as "political ammunition to be used in, and to pressure, the UK parliament".

Analysis by Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

The advocate general's opinion that the UK has the right to unilaterally withdraw Article 50 notification of its intention to leave the EU flies in the face of what the UK government and the EU want.

Although the Advocate General's opinion is non-binding, the ECJ follow his opinions in the majority of cases.

The whole issue of revocation remains hypothetical at present because the government has made it clear there is no possibility of seeking to revoke the notice to leave the EU.

However, the statement raises the question of how the UK might revoke notification.

It would almost certainly need to be done by an act of parliament. If it was done by ministers alone using prerogative powers it would frustrate the will of parliament as expressed in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

It should be noted that the statement and the case concerns revocation of notice to leave, and not a delay or extension of the two-year period provided for under Article 50.

That period can be extended, but only with the agreement of all of the other 27 EU states. Whereas extension of the Article 50 period could become a political necessity, revocation of Article 50 remains something of an academic point at present. However, that would change if there was a second referendum in which the British people voted to remain in the EU. ... s-46428579
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:34 pm

Brexit: Leave ‘very likely’ won EU referendum due to illegal overspending, says Oxford professor’s evidence to High Court

Exclusive: Analysis finds adverts reached ‘tens of millions of people’ in crucial days after spending limit breached – enough to change the outcome

9 hours ago
It is “very likely” that the UK voted for Brexit because of illegal overspending by the Vote Leave campaign, according to an Oxford professor’s evidence to the High Court.

An exhaustive analysis of the campaign’s digital strategy concludes it reached “tens of millions of people” in its last crucial days, after its spending limit had been breached – enough to change the outcome.

The evidence will be put to the High Court on Friday, in a landmark case that is poised to rule within weeks whether the referendum result should be declared void because the law was broken.

Professor Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute, at the university, said: “My professional opinion is that it is very likely that the excessive spending by Vote Leave altered the result of the referendum.

“A swing of just 634,751 people would have been enough to secure victory for Remain.

“Given the scale of the online advertising achieved with the excess spending, combined with conservative estimates on voter modelling, I estimate that Vote Leave converted the voting intentions of over 800,000 voters in the final days of the campaign as a result of the overspend.”

The conclusion came as Theresa May scrambled to find a concession she could give to rebel Tories to persuade them to back her deal, as she appeared to be veering towards a heavy defeat in next Tuesday’s landmark vote.

Professor Howard’s report is based on separate research which found that 20-30 per cent of people decided how to vote within a week of polling day, with half of these doing so on election day itself.

If, as he has concluded, Vote Leave’s Facebook adverts reached tens of millions of people after they had should have stopped, they influenced huge numbers of voting decisions.

Now the campaigners will ask the High Court for permission to use the report as evidence, when a potentially explosive legal challenge gets underway on Friday.

The Independent revealed last month that lawyers expect the judges will fast-track the case to a full hearing because of the prime minister’s refusal to act on the growing evidence of illegality in the 2016 referendum campaign.

Brexit march for a final say – in pictures

Show all 65

Lawyers describe that failure as “absolutely extraordinary” – given the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) separate investigartion into suspicions of “multiple” criminal offences committed by Arron Banks and the Leave.EU campaign.

The case is expected to move to a full hearing and a ruling within weeks of opening, with the clock ticking on the UK’s departure from the EU next March.

The government is set to deploy Sir James Eadie QC – the barrister who led the unsuccessful battle for the government to trigger Article 50 without parliament’s consent – in a sign of the case’s importance.

Professor Howard based his study on material disclosed by Facebook to the Commons committee which investigated Vote Leave’s overspending, as well “accounts written by campaign insiders”.

It points out that the Remain campaign was forced to stop its digital advertising on the last day of the June 2016 campaign because it had reached its spending limit.

In contrast, Vote Leave carried on, despite busting its limit two days before the vote – and was later found by the Electoral Commission to have broken the law.

Earlier this year, Vote Leave whistleblower Christopher Wylie also alleged the cheating won the support of enough voters, through precisely targeted online advertising, to sway the referendum result.

Friday’s case has been brought by a group of British expats in other EU countries, called UK in EU Challenge, which argues lawbreaking during the campaign means the result cannot be considered the “will of the people”.

The professor was asked to provide an expert’s report which Croft Solicitors, acting on behalf of the claimants, will seek to use as evidence in its case for a substantive hearing.

Carole-Anne Richards, one of the claimants, said the public had the right to expect the referendum to have been carried out “lawfully, free from corrupt and illegal practices”, adding: “This is clearly not the case here.

“We are very grateful to Professor Howard for his work in looking at Vote Leave Facebook advertising overspend and correlating that with voter behaviour.”

The group will argue that Brexit must be declared void and the notification of Article 50 quashed, because “various criminal offences may have been committed”.

It had been expected that any ruling would await the conclusions of the NCA probe, but it is now thought it will be fast-tracked – with less than four months until Brexit day.

Mr Banks could be given a two-year prison sentence if he is found to have “knowingly concealed” that an Isle of Man company was the source of up to £8m for Leave.EU – which would have been outlawed as a foreign donation.

Croft Solicitors wrote to the prime minister on 6 November asking her to “reconsider her refusal to take any action” over the lawbreaking exposed during the campaign and the announcement of the NCA investigation.

Downing Street declined to respond to The Independent’s request for a response about why there has been no wider investigation into alleged illegality. ... ssion=true
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:31 am

British Pound "Whacked" by Euro and Dollar on News Parliament's Brexit Vote is Cancelled

Pound Sterling "Whacked" by Euro and Dollar on News May is to Return to Brussels for Further Negotiations

Written by Gary HowesModified: Monday, 10 December 2018 14:17
European legal concept

Image © Mike Chodyra, Adobe Images.

- May to make statement to parliament at 15:30 GMT

- Sterling dips on news Brexit vote in parliament is off

- ECJ rules UK can stay in European Union

- ECJ Ruling to weaponise stance of remain-leaning MPs

The British Pound fell sharply at the start of the new week on headlines in late morning trade in London that the government is to abandon a vote on the EU-UK Brexit deal, originally scheduled for Tuesday.

Furthermore, reports suggest the Prime Minister is to address parliament at 15:30 GMT to deliver a statement. "Leadsom statement on Commons business expected to follow PM statement this afternoon, which implies they are indeed pulling the vote," says the BBC's Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg.

According to a report in the Telegraph, May says she is to return to Brussels to secure a "legally binding assurance" that the UK won't be trapped into any form of backstop indefinitely.

Markets are wary that May is running a fools errand in going back to the European Union with such a request and as such the prospect of a 'no deal' Brexit has risen; such an outcome would be destabilising to the UK economy and its currency.

The market has reacted sharply to the developments: The Pound-to-Dollar exchange rate is down 0.75% at 1.2621, the Pound-to-Euro exchange rate is a more substantial 0.82% lower at 1.1065 ensuring the market is now trading at fresh three-and-a-half month lows.

"Cable is getting whacked," observes Neil Wilson, Chief Market Analyst with in the wake of the headlines. "May seems to have accepted she had no chance of winning and is seeking to save her premiership by some last minute brinkmanship. Sterling remains at the mercy of highly sensitive news flow around Brexit and this morning has been a case in point."

"The political uncertainty has seen the UK Pound Pound dip below $1.27," says Economist Shaun Richards.

"GBP weighed down by lashings of Brexit uncertainty," says Robert Howard, an analyst on the currencies desk at Thomson Reuters, referencing "reports about the Commons Brexit vote scheduled for Tuesday."

We find the currency's reaction a little strange; the market always knew the government was going to lose the vote originally set for Tuesday which would in turn open the door to further uncertainty.

If anything, news the vote is being pulled actually moves the whole process forward somewhat.

Regardless, all eyes now turn to 15:30 when May is to address the House of Commons.

"If she is pulling the vote to go back to Brussels it could suggest a renegotiation of the backstop, or at least clarification. We must note that the EU has categorically said this is the only deal and it seems unlikely it would revisit," says Wilson, adding:

"Alternatively, this opens up the prospect of May herself going for a second referendum, with voters asked whether they accept this deal or no deal. A complete shambles is about the only way to describe this situation and investors are right to be very cautious about UK assets."

Bank-beating GBP/EUR exchange rates. Get up to 5% more foreign exchange by using a specialist provider to get closer to the real market rate and avoid the gaping spreads charged by your bank when providing currency. Learn more here
ECJ Brexit Ruling Throws More Fuel on the Fire of Uncertainty

The decline in the Pound comes as investors pare back exposure to Sterling in light of growing uncertainty: the cancellation of the 'meaningful vote' on the Brexit deal sets in motion a series of political events unseen in scope since the EU referendum of 2016.

To be clear: there is no certainty as to what will happen when Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal and there are a number of potential scenarios likely to play out.

Our suspicion is that cancelling the vote simply buys the Prime Minister more time as it appears the Conservative party was preparing her ouster in the event of the Brexit deal suffering a large defeat.

On the eve of the now canned vote, the European Court of Justice handed remain-leaning MPs a boost with their ruling that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 and stop Brexit.

Furthermore, the court ruled:

"Such a revocation, decided in accordance with its own national constitutional requirements, would have the effect that the United Kingdom remains in the EU under terms that are unchanged."

In short, the UK can remain a member with all the previous UK-specific benefits in place. There was speculation that were the UK to abandon its Brexit bid that the European Union would make strong demands that the country aligns fully with other European nations.

The ECJ has just said there is no basis for such suggestions.

The outcome was actually well signposted with the European Advocate General last week advising the ECJ that the UK could unilaterally withdraw.

"The ECJ decision could embolden Remain MP’s and Peoples Vote campaigners to push for a second referendum if the Withdrawal Agreement fails to pass the UK House of Commons on 11 December. So far, opinion polls remain tight suggesting political uncertainty will continue to undermine GBP whether there is a new UK general election or another referendum," says Joseph Capurso, an analyst with Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The ruling has had marginal impact on the Pound today, but nevertheless bears a potentially significant on what comes next as remain-leaning politicians will now be able to weaponise the ruling to their advantage, ensuring yet further uncertainty as to how the coming days will play out.

"The UK now appears to have the option of revoking Brexit unilaterally and taking a period of time of its own choosing to decide what happens next," says Malcolm Barr, an economist at JP Morgan.

Theresa May’s recent parliamentary defeats - first on access to legal advice and then on the Grieve amendment, which would give MPs more of a say were she to fail to win approval for her withdrawal bill - have radically increased the chances the whole Brexit endeavour could be thwarted.

The probability of the UK remaining in the EU has now doubled to 40%, the highest it has been since the referendum, say analysts at investment bank JP Morgan, offering a fundamental view that supports the formation of a technical floor we see forming under the Pound.

The probability of other outcomes has also been revised by Barr, who has reduced the chances of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit to only 10% (down from 20%) and an orderly Brexit to 50% (down from 60%).

The analysis has profound implications for Sterling traders since it reduces the chances of the main scenario likely to cause further weakness - ergo that of a disorderly Brexit - to only 1 in 10. This suggests a very strong probability the Pound is now underpinned by a ‘hard floor’ at current levels, all other things being equal.

While the ECJ ruling is on paper positive for Sterling we have to stress there is simply too much near-term uncertainty to call direction in the currency and we can only tell readers to stay alert of heightened volatility. ... rexit-vote
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:59 pm

Brexit deal: May admits she would have lost vote by large margin

Prime minister postpones vote on EU withdrawal because of opposition to backstop

Jessica Elgot
First published on Mon 10 Dec 2018 10.42 EST
Follow Monday’s political developments – live updates
Theresa May has formally postponed the vote on her Brexit deal, telling MPs it was clear that concern among them about the Irish backstop proposals would have led to it being rejected “by a significant margin”.

The vote would not proceed “at this time” and be deferred, May told a packed and noisy House of Commons, giving no details as to when it would take place. No 10 subsequently indicated it might not take place until January.

The prime minister said that in the interim she would return to EU member states to seek “further assurances” on the backstop, and seek ways to “empower” the Commons.

May will continue on a frantic round of European diplomacy in an attempt to obtain a written text that she will be able to present MPs, but a breakthrough is not expected this week, even though the PM will end it by going to Brussels for a scheduled summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

Jeremy Corbyn, responding to May’s statement, said the country was in “an extremely serious and unprecedented situation”. The Labour leader argued it would be pointless to bring what was fundamentally the same deal back to the house, whether in a few days or next month.

The CBI said the delay to the deal was a blow for business, and that the UK “risks sliding towards a national crisis”.

The decision to stop the Commons voting after three of five planned days of debate on the deal prompted a furious intervention from the Speaker. John Bercow said that while the government could unilaterally pull the vote, it should reconsider doing so at an “inordinately late stage”.

Downing Street said it would pull the vote formally at around 8pm tonight, when the Commons clerks call out the business to be debated. A government whip simply has to shout “tomorrow” for the business to be deferred indefinitely; No 10 said the procedure was a standard one used all the time.

May began her address by saying that during the debate she had “listened very carefully to what has been said in this chamber and out of it by members of all sides”, prompting laughter from many MPs.

“From listening to these views it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one issue, the Northern Ireland backstop, there remains widespread and deep concern,” she said.

“As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, it would be rejected by a significant margin.”

Quick guide
Brexit and backstops: an explainer

May said that before the European council summit later this week, she would visit her counterparts in other member states, as well as the leadership of the European council and the commission. “I will discuss with them the clear concerns that the house has expressed.”

May said she believed it was still possible to secure a majority for her deal in parliament, “if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop, and that will be my focus in the days ahead”.

“If you take a step back, it is clear this house faces a much more fundamental question: does this house want to deliver Brexit?” May asked, to shouts of “No!”.

She continued: “If the house does, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU? If the answer is yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this house, then we all have to ask ourselves whether we’re prepared to make a compromise. Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate.”

Corbyn said it had been “evident for weeks” that MPs would reject the deal. “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray.”

He asked May to clarify if she was seeking actual changes to the withdrawal agreement with the EU, or “mere reassurances” about change.

“Bringing back the same botched deal, either next week or in January – and can she be clear on the timing? – will not change its fundamental flaws and deeply held objections right across this house, which go far wider than the backstop alone,” he said.

There was, however, no indication when May would return. Asked by the Scottish National party’s Kirsty Blackman when a vote. The prime minister said that under the EU Withdrawal Act if no deal had been agreed with the European Union by 21 January she must make a statement to parliament.

But it understood that the conditions set out in the act have already been met because the UK has already negotiated a Brexit deal in principle with the EU. Technically, the meaningful vote could be held on any date, although in practice this will be limited by the government’s ability to get through the ensuing legislation required to ratify the deal through parliament.

Asked about this possibility in the debate by former education secretary Justine Greening, May discounted it, but declined to say when she would return.

Bercow said: “Halting the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues had taken the trouble to contribute will be thought by many members of this house to be deeply discourteous.”

However, the Speaker said that while his procedural advice was that the government could decide on its own to delay the vote, it was “infinitely preferable” to give the house the opportunity to vote on whether the debate should be adjourned.

“I can reassure ministers that I would be happy to accept such a motion so that the house can decide,” he said.

He said the alternative would mean the Commons was “not only deprived of its opportunity to vote on the substance of the debate tomorrow but also given no chance to express its view today on whether the debate should or should not continue”. ... rge-margin
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:53 pm

Carole Cadwalladr

Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Carole Cadwalladr

Verified account

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Carole Cadwalladr Retweeted RT
Shock. RT attacks me. After I write about RT's role in promoting Nigel Farage, Julian Assange & Seamus Milne. Nothing to see here. It's just the self-described "information weapon" of the Russian state doing what it does ... 5583105025

Nothing to see here. It's just the self-described "information weapon" of the Russian state doing what it does
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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:59 pm

Carole Cadwalladr

Verified account

Follow Follow @carolecadwalla
Carole Cadwalladr Retweeted Jeremy Corbyn
Human rights are under attack everywhere. Brexit is not British, it’s part of a global rise in authoritarianism facilitated by dark money, foreign interference, tech monopoly. We must have a Mueller-style inquiry into the assault on our democracy. Your silence is chilling ... 4989355009

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:05 pm

Brexit: Tory resentment of Irish power within EU

AFP Leo Varadkar in front of an EU flag
A Tory grandee recently sidled up to me to express grave reservations about the Brexit process.

"We simply cannot allow the Irish to treat us like this," the former minister said about the negotiating tactics of the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

The Conservative MP was exasperated that the Republic of Ireland (population: 4.8m) has been able to shape the EU negotiating stance that has put such pressure on the UK (population: 66m).

"This simply cannot stand," the one-time moderniser told me. "The Irish really should know their place."

The remarks explained why Conservatives from both sides of the Brexit divide are so troubled by the negotiations. They also explain why Theresa May might find that any concessions from the EU over the Northern Ireland backstop may fall short of the demands of Tory MPs.

On Brexit, May and Corbyn need each other
PM meeting EU leaders for Brexit talks
Q&A: The Irish border Brexit backstop
Over the last few months Tory MPs have asked in private how the Irish Republic can believe its relationship with the EU trumps its relationship with the UK.

They cite economic reasons (the Irish Republic's strong trading links with the UK) and the historical relationship.

The MPs do of course acknowledge that left a troubled legacy.

One minister familiar with Anglo-Irish relations points out that these Tories should bear in mind one date and one word to explain both the Irish and the EU's approach.

The date is 1973: when the Irish Republic joined the EEC at the same time as the UK and Denmark.

That was the moment when Ireland took a giant political leap at the same time as the UK.

But it turned out to be arguably the biggest unilateral strategic move since Partition in the 1920s - a move that defined the modern Irish Republic as an independent state within Europe, with a wholly different approach to its larger neighbour.

The word to bear in mind, according to this minister, is "smalls".

That defines how the EU makes a point of looking out for the interests of smaller member states, as long as they tally with the wider interests of the EU.

Seeking assurances

And so the EU has stood by the Taoiseach after he insisted on a definitive and legally binding assurance that there would be no hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

That is how the EU ended up demanding that the UK sign up to the backstop - a customs union for Great Britain and the customs union for Northern Ireland - in the event of a failure to agree a new trade deal by the end of the transition period.

The Northern Ireland backstop is the single most troublesome element of the deal and forced Theresa May to postpone the meaningful vote.

The view of the European Research Group: cast out the backstop and most Brexiteers will swallow their doubts in other areas and accept the deal.

The view of more supportive voices: soften the backstop with some legal assurances and a significant number of middle ground Brexiteers will sign up to the deal.

And so Theresa May took to the skies on Monday night to seek what she called 'assurances' from the EU.

She knows that renegotiating the withdrawal agreement would be perilous, because the likes of France would table even more difficult demands.

One senior cabinet minister told me the prime minister is therefore looking for a legal codicil, in the form of a letter, to provide a legally binding commitment on the limits of the backstop.

One supportive MP said this would need to guarantee that the backstop could last no more than a year if it is triggered.

The EU is saying it wants to help but in a very limited way. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said before his meeting with the prime minister that the EU would provide "further clarifications and interpretations".

But there would be "no room whatsoever for renegotiation".

As the minister familiar with Anglo-Irish history said, the Irish Republic is standing by its decision of 1973 and the club is looking after its own.

And that is what alarms so many Tories: after centuries of troubled Anglo-Irish relations it is the smaller of the two islands which appears to be exercising greater power for the first time. ... ssion=true

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Re: The Brexit thread

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:28 am

British Pound drops below $1.25 as a no-confidence vote is to be held on Theresa May's leadership after more than 48 Conservative MPs submitted a letter calling for her to stand down.

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