Labour MPs have accused the UK government of hiding information about the Kremlin interfering with Brexit.
In an interview with Business Insider, MP Ben Bradshaw said the “public has a right to know” if Russia attempted to influence the EU referendum last year.
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Bradshaw raised concerns that the prime minister and her government are not being transparent enough about the issue, saying:
“Our government clearly knows more than they’re letting on and I think it’s slightly suspicious that they’re not being more open about it. In fact, they’re being less open than any other Western democracy has been.”
It is now a well-established fact that the US election was subject to some tampering by Putin and his gang, no less because it was shown that the leaked emails from the Democratic National Convention were subject to Russian hacking.
According to declassified documents released by the NSA, CIA and FBI, the report by the agency stated:
“We assess Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect Trump.”
Read more: Trump and Russia: how far will it go?
But a hand in Brexit? Unlike with the US election when there was a clear, orchestrated campaign against Clinton, there was no particular smear crusade against those in the Remain camp. In fact, the reasons the British public voted to leave the EU seemed pretty straight forward: sovereignty, democracy, a chance for Britain to ‘reclaim’ its borders, and a chance to recover the fees it pays to the EU for membership.
You don’t need to agree with the reasons for leaving to understand that there was a clear public movement towards this result.
A few days ago, former Labour minister Chris Byrant told Parliament that there is clear evidence Russia has directly interfered in the most recent UK election, as a result of a series of attempted cyber attacks in the run-up to May 2015.
Has our paranoia with the Kremlin gone back to Cold War levels? Or does this signal something more serious – that the rise of state-sponsored hacking has reached unprecedented heights.
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Shall we just give up and hand ourselves over to our future (Russian) overlords?
There may be more issues in the Brexit campaign than we noticed before
The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced it is investigating the spending returns of the two Brexit campaigns.
More than £32m was spent during the campaign – making it the most expensive referendum in British political history. The Leave side was funded by donations of around £16.4m, compared to the Remain camp’s funds of £15.1m.
It appears that both the lead campaigns did not deliver all the necessary invoices and receipts to support their returns. The Lib Dems spending return also has some missing details, including invoices receipts and supplier names.
The EC’s director of political finance, regulation and legal counsel, Bob Posner said:
“It is disappointing that some campaigners, including both lead campaigners, appear to have not fully reported all their spending as they should have. Missing spending details undermines transparency and makes the returns harder for the public to understand. Where it appears campaigners have not fulfilled their legal obligations, we have begun and will continue to take action to deal with this.”
It may not be Russia that had a hand in influencing the referendum, but some suspect dealings may have taken place between our own campaigns.