G7 FORMAT IS DEAD

South Front

G7 Format Is Dead

US President Donald J. Trump speaks during a press conference on the closing day of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo: IAN LANGSDON, EPA-EFE)

The G7 summit took place in France’s Biarritz in the period from August 24 to August 26 involving leaders of the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, and the UK, as well as the top EU bureaucrat Donald Tusk.

The G7 participants released a surprisingly short joint statement adressing a very limited number of global questions:

The G7 Leaders wish to underline their great unity and the positive spirit of the debates. The G7 Summit organized by France in Biarritz has successfully produced agreements by the Heads of State and Government themselves on several points summarized below:

Trade

The G7 is committed to open and fair world trade and to the stability of the global economy.
The G7 requests that the Finance Ministers closely monitor the state of the global economy. 
Therefore, the G7 wishes to overhaul the WTO to improve effectiveness with regard to intellectual property protection, to settle disputes more swiftly and to eliminate unfair trade practices.
The G7 commits to reaching in 2020 an agreement to simplify regulatory barriers and modernize international taxation within the framework of the OECD.

Iran

We fully share two objectives: to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons and to foster peace and stability in the region.

Ukraine

France and Germany will organize a Normandy format summit in the coming weeks to achieve tangible results.

Libya

We support a truce in Libya that will lead to a long-term ceasefire.
We believe that only a political solution can ensure Libya’s stability.
We call for a well-prepared international conference to bring together all the stakeholders and regional actors relevant to this conflict.
We support in this regard the work of the United Nations and the African Union to set up an inter-Libyan conference.

Hong Kong

The G7 reaffirms the existence and importance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 on Hong Kong and calls for violence to be avoided.

After the G7 in 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew its signature from the final declaration, the 2019 was shown by some mainstream media outlets as a success. However, it’s just another indication that the format is dying after the exclusion of Russia.

No surprise that the return of Russia in fact became one of the key topics during the G7 summit. The Guardian even reproted that there was a kind of scandal on this topic with the US leader openly arguing that Russia should be returned.

G7 Format Is Dead

U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

“Russia be readmitted to the group, rejecting arguments that it should remain an association of liberal democracies, according to diplomats at the summit in Biarritz.

The disagreement led to heated exchanges at a dinner on Saturday night inside the seaside resort’s 19th-century lighthouse. According to diplomatic sources, Trump argued strenuously that Vladimir Putin should be invited back, five years after Russia was ejected from the then G8) for its annexation of Crimea.

Of the other leaders around the table, only Giuseppe Conte, the outgoing Italian prime minister, offered Trump any support, according to this account. Shinzo Abe of Japan was neutral. The rest – the UK’s Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, the EU council president, Donald Tusk, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron – pushed back firmly against the suggestion,” The Guardian reported.

 

The report was followed by an official statement by Trump that having Russia in the group “is better than having them outside” the G7. So, The Guardian’s report part regarding Trump’s stance on the topic was true. At the same time, the newspaper claimed that all others were against. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Italy supported the idea.
  • The report claimed that Japan was neutral. However, in fact, Japan is interested in the expansion of diplomatic formats for the dialogue with Russia, especially regarding the Kuril Islands question. The bilateral talks on this topic is a dead end for Japan because Russia is not going to make any consenquences. The only chance of Shinzo Abe to make some progress is wider formats with help from his Western allies.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron allegedly was against this move during the G7. However, other French statements clearly indicate that Paris will act in the framework of its Big Brother, the US. It is not up to France, that lost a large part of its influence under the new presidency, to decide.
  • German’s Angela Merkel officially linked the return of Russia to the implementing the Minsk agreements related to the situation in eastern Ukraine. Crimea is for a long time beyond the diplomatic rhetoric of Merkel.
  • In fact, the UK and Canada were the only powers really standing against the return of Russia. Since the start of Trump’s first term, the  UK has been the key power representing interests of the Euro-Atlantic establishment. So, there is no surprise in this. At the same time, Canada is not a really independent state that can provide a really independent foreign policy. It’s an open secret that the UK still appoints a Governor General of Canada that has a wide range of options to impact the Canadian policy – for example, to dissolve the Parliament.
  • The EU council president Donald Tusk was also against, according to The Guardian. However, it remains unclear what did he do there. It’s the G7, not the G7 + “EU buerocrats”. If there is a decision to invite various persons to summit to make fun, SouthFront recommends to invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2020. He would use his comedian skills  to make a great show for the participants.

G7 Format Is Dead

David Lipton (IMF), Moussa Faki (AUC), David Malpass (World Bank), Scott Morrison (Australia), Antonio Guterres (UN), Narendra Modi (India), Guy Ryder (ILO), Pedro Sanchez (Spain), Angel Gurria (OECD), Akinwumi Adesina (African Development Bank). Front: Boris Johnson (UK), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Abdel Sisi (Egypt), Shinzo Abe (Japan), Justin Trudeau (Canada), Donald Trump (US), Emmanuel Macron (France), Angela Merkel (Germany), Macky Sall (Senegal), Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Guiseppe Conte (Italy), Donald Tusk (EC) Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

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Tell me again how we are likely to benefit from #Brexit

Brexit is crazy, there are no perceivable advantages or benefits for the average British citizens. Nearly 50% of our trade is with the EU and there are no guarantees that can be replaced from elsewhere. Boris Johnson seems to believe that his friend Trump will help him but any trade deals with the USA would be at a cost and could seriously jeopardize public institutions, particularly the NHS.

Undoubtedly there will be a sharp increase in unemployment, factories closing, farmers bankrupt, loss of investment, the pound falling in value resulting in higher prices. This is not scare warmongering, it’s an unavoidable reality.

According to my energy provider 50% of our energy requirements, gas and electricity, are imported from the EU, so we will be at risk of price hikes and a lack of supply. Immigration, the main motivation of Brexiteers, is unlikely to fall, because it’s immigration which we desperately need.

Another complaint by Brexit supporters is that the EU was making British law, but from my experience not one has been able to be specific in regard to which laws they are referring to or which laws hadn’t been approved by the British Government.

So please tell me why are we going through all this uncertainty, pain and expense, what are the possible benefits? No doubt a few individuals might benefit, the likes of Johnson and Farage, from lower wages and lucrative trade deals from sources which do not have the UK’s interests at heart.

A comprehensive history of everything awful Boris “the clown” Johnson has said

A comprehensive history of everything awful Boris Johnson has said

A comprehensive history of everything awful Boris Johnson has said

By Micha Frazer-Carroll

Image via BackBoris2012 Campaign Team / Flickr

So many gaffes! Maybe so many that we need to stop calling them “gaffes”! Blunderous BoJo, what ever shall we do with him? We all make slip ups sometimes. But the former foreign secretary, who today will become our PM, has had his fair share of headlines surrounding Alleged Accusations Of “Racially Charged” Race-Related Comments Reportedly Said By Some To Be Motivated By Race. Or as we like to call it: racism.

He’s also ventured into misogyny and classism in his time – and over the weekend became part of a conversation around the rise of the far-right, led by David Lammy. In the name of the public record, we took a deep dive and pulled together a comprehensive history of times Boris has really, really fucked up. Chronologically. Buckle up!

  • In his 2002 column in the Spectator, Boris penned an article titled: “Africa is a mess, but we can’t blame colonialism”.
  • In the piece, Boris described the continent as a “blot” and suggested that it would be better off if it was colonised again, writing: “The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more…the best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”
  • In 2002, in a column in the Telegraph, BoJo described black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.
  • In 2004, Boris was asked to apologise to Liverpudlians after writing in the Spectator that they were “wallowing” in “victim status” after the Hillsborough disaster. Boris said those who lived in the city needed to acknowledge the role played “by drunken fans at the back of the crowd who mindlessly tried to fight their way into the ground”.
  • In the 2005 leadership contest, bumbling BoJo said “voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3”.
  • Boris described Papua New Guineans as prone to “cannibalism” and “chief-killing” in his column in the Telegraph in 2006.
  • Boris blamed rising house prices on women graduates in his Spectator column in 2007. It’s almost as if people should stop giving him columns.
  • In the same article, he managed to wrap classism into sexism, writing: “The result is that in families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole – in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner.”
  • Also in 2007, BoJo described Hillary Clinton as looking like a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.
  • In 2008, Boris allowed a piece to be printed that claimed black people have lower IQs, under his editorship at the Spectator. “Orientals…have larger brains and higher IQ scores,” the piece read. “Blacks are at the other pole.”
  • London assembly member Jennette Arnold accused BoJo of all-round sexist conduct in 2012, arguing that he generally treats women assembly members in a “disrespectful, patronising” way that was different to the men.
  • In 2013, Boris suggested that the increase in Malaysian women going to university was down to the fact that they have “got to find men to marry”. Groans were reportedly heard from Malaysian women in the audience.
  • Boris dabbled as a wordsmith in 2016 when he wrote a poem about the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “There was a young fellow from Ankara / Who was a terrific wankerer / Till he sowed his wild oats / With the help of a goat / But he didn’t even stop to thankera.” Boris won a £1,000 poetry prize for the limerick.
  • In a Tory party conference speech in 2016, Boris claimed that “the values of global Britain are needed more than ever” and that British “beliefs” are necessary to “lift the world out of poverty”.
  • In the same speech, he called Africa a “country”.
  • After Barack Obama suggested that the UK should remain in the EU, BoJo said that the then-president should stay out of the conversation as he was “part-Kenyan” and had an “ancestral dislike” for the UK.
  • In 2017, Boris met with Steve Bannon, founder of Breitbart News, a self-described “platform for the alt-right”.
  • Boris also apologised to political prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe in 2017 after saying she was in Iran “training journalists”, when she was in fact on holiday. He was accused of risking adding an extra five years to her time in prison due to the mistake.
  • Boris was asked to apologise after referring to Emily Thornberry using her husband’s name to ridicule her in the commons in early 2018.
  • Last summer, Boris wrote in his column in the Telegraph that the burqa was “oppressive and ridiculous”, comparing Muslim women to “bank-robbers” and “letterboxes”.

What a silly bumbling, potential Prime Minister he is. Good thing people’s views don’t tend to have an impact on their policies or anything

Idiots Driving World to War

A view of the Grace 1 super tanker in the British territory of Gibraltar, Thursday, July 4, 2019
Finian Cunningham
10620

Like a person going up in an escalator while asserting they are going down, the British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has a bizarre way of trying to assure Iran that war is not on the cards.

Hunt, who is vying to become Britain’s new prime minister, stated on camera that “he wants to de-escalate” the danger of a military confrontation with Iran over mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf.

That was only days after he vowed to dramatically increase Britain’s military spending and in particular, boost the country’s naval firepower  – citing Iran as the main threat to British commercial shipping interests.

It also follows news that London has ordered a second warship to patrol the Persian Gulf. Earlier this week a British Royal Navy frigate reportedly challenged Iranian military vessels (three small boats) after they allegedly tried to impede a British oil tanker entering the narrow Strait of Hormuz. Iran vehemently denied any such interference by its boats and claimed that Britain and the US were engaging in a provocation.

Given that the Pentagon has announced plans to send an international coalition of warships to the Gulf “over the next two weeks”, under the guise of protecting commercial shipping from alleged Iranian threats, it must certainly look to Iran like the “war escalator” is speeding upwards.

Hunt has previously asserted that British forces would join in any American military attack on Iran. The resonance of past Anglo-American skullduggery against Iran is no doubt palpable to most Iranians.

There seems little doubt that Hunt is playing the “hard military man” card in his grubby contest with Boris Johnson to become the next prime minister. Conservative Party members are due to vote later this month on who is to replace the hapless Theresa May.

Bumbling Boris is the favourite to win the party race. But Hunt is making a last-gasp bid to rally the rank-and-file with seeming credentials of being a “tough leader”.

This week he wrote in a newspaper oped: “As the son of a naval officer, I know a little of the sacrifices of these individuals and of their families back home.”

He then promised that, if elected prime minister, he would ramp up military spending by 25 per cent, or by £15 billion, over the next five years. He claimed the tensions in the Gulf with Iran are “proof” that Britain needs to overhaul its maritime forces.

That exorbitant indulgence of military spending will likely wreak havoc on public services and prolong years of economic austerity on ordinary Britons. But such is the ambition of Hunt to get into 10 Downing Street, it’s a devastating price he seems willing to make British citizens pay.

However, more damning is Hunt’s reckless gamble from inflaming tensions with Iran. Sending more naval forces to the Gulf at a time of knife-edge fears about a war breaking out is ludicrous, if not criminally irresponsible.

Over the past two months, there have already been numerous incidents of alleged sabotage on shipping in the strategically important Gulf which the US has blamed on Iran. An American spy drone was shot down on June 20 by the Iranians after it allegedly violated Iran’s airspace. That incident nearly resulted in, reportedly, Trump ordering airstrikes.

The seizure last week by British commandoes of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar has added to fraught nerves in the region. More so because Tehran contends that seizure to be an illegal “act of piracy” orchestrated by Washington and London. The refusal by Britain to release the cargo of two million barrels of oil – based on dubious claims of enforcing EU sanctions against Syria – would also seem to be a calculated insult to provoke Iran.

From Iran’s point of view, the British are permitted to hijack oil ships, but whenever its patrol boats even as much as approach a British tanker near its territorial waters, then London and Washington are crying “foul”. The flagrant hypocrisy is in itself another provocative goading.

Let’s be clear: the Buffoonish Boris Johnson would be equally as deplorable as the Silly Hunt. Both of them are unscrupulous sycophants to America’s President Trump and his crazed warmongering towards Iran.

Russia has warned that the escalating tensions in the Gulf could spark a catastrophic war. Potentially a war in the tinderbox region could lead to World War III.

Lamentably, Britain’s shambolic politics and its venal politicians are playing with fire in their pathetic plans for personal self-aggrandizement of power.

Hunt’s double-think posturing of “escalating to de-escalate” is a sure sign that this Tory toff should not be heading to Downing Street, but rather to a padded cell. Johnson could also qualify for a cell next door.

The backdrop to resolving the current madness for endangering global peace seems blindingly obvious. Washington needs to abide by the 2015 international nuclear treaty with Iran, lift the sanctions crushing the Iranian economy, and remove all warships from the Persian Gulf.

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said this week, there would be no need for the US or Britain to “protect shipping” in the Gulf if these two states simply respected international law and norms of diplomacy.

It is insane and gut-wrenchingly tragic that world peace is being jeopardized by idiots like Hunt, Johnson and their puppet master in Washington. The only long-term solution is for the whole rotten political class in Britain, and the US, to be thrown out by popular revolt.

Views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Not So Special US-UK Relationship

The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ has been known to exist as a close alliance between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since the days of FDR and Churchill forged during the Second World War. It is called special because of the unique historical and cultural bonds of kinship that unite the American and British peoples through a perceived shared heritage, common political/social/economic values and language. Together over the course of 72 years it has been the White House with the support of 10 Downing Street as its principal strategic leading ally in Europe.The so-called ‘Special Relationship’ is an unprecedented coming together and sharing of two nation states intelligence and national security infrastructures and spy-intelligence organisations. The US-UK relationship is highly integrated at an intelligence, defence, foreign policy and security level. As well as being two highly developed, mature, sophisticated economies that do a tremendous amount of trade and investment with each other there are cultural affinities with a shared language and common ancestry.

At a political level the relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is an institution of the Anglo-American special relationship and the poster child of it. When it has been good and based on mutual admiration and mutual chemistry with a strong bond of friendship such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair with Bill Clinton and George W Bush, John F Kennedy and Harold Macmillan and FDR together with in war time arms Churchill it has served to create an aura of confidence and glamour as well as excitement in the conduct of Western global leadership under the American order. Low points included the evident cold body language and distaste Edward Heath had for Richard Nixon.

Also Harold Wilson fell out with President Johnson regarding not having British involvement in the Vietnam War. British Conservative Prime Minister John Major did not get on well with American liberal ‘New’ Democrat President Bill Clinton regarding differing positions on the Irish peace process and Northern Ireland as well as Major helping Republican George Bush during the 1992 Presidential Election.

Now, quite possibly the US-UK “special relationship” has suffered serious damage and could be at its lowest ebb ever, which will have tremendous consequences for the UK’s position in the world going forward outside of the European Union. The relationship and alliance has always meant far more to London than to Washington DC. But in so heavily involving the British intelligence services in interfering in the 2016 US Presidential election directly working against the Republican candidate Donald Trump and in favour of the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, the British State may just have crossed a red line to far in the mind of President Donald Trump.

There has been much banging on about Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election. This of course is never spoken of in the context that various American and British Governments have not only covertly interfered and intervened directly in other countries internal democratic elections and political systems such as the case with the British Conservative Government of John Major attempting to help the Republican Bush 1992 campaign against Bill Clinton, but also overtly, such as was the case with Iran after WWII. However, the more one learns of the extent of the British intelligence state’s involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election working in favour of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the more one begins to see that an argument can be mounted that the level of British State intervention in the 2016 US Presidential election to help tip the balance in favour of one candidate against the other is unprecedented.

Such is the case of one British political ‘activist’ by the name of Simon Bracey-Lane who mysteriously worked as an activist for the Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential campaign and a very strange organisation called The Institute of Statecraft which runs something spuriously called the ‘Integrity Initiative’. The Institute for Statecraft and its Integrity Initiative is a front for the British Government’s intelligence services. It is funded largely by the British Foreign Office and NATO Governments. It came into being in 2015 long before Donald Trump was ever perceived to be a serious candidate for the White House and its sole purpose is to continue in that most ridiculous and backwards ‘Cold War’ mentality of smearing all things Russian and smearing anyone who takes a positive interest and positive perspective on Russia and the great Russian people.

It would seem Bracey-Lane was an agent of the British Government on a mission to collect up data on Bernie Sanders, the chief rival for the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton back in 2016 and then in all likelihood pass such data to the 2016 Clinton Campaign. The British Government at the time at made it known it wanted Hillary Clinton elected President. Senator Sanders was of course a left wing firebrand, the closest American politics gets to having a socialist, who was lukewarm towards Israel and intent on revolutionising American domestic and international policy to take it in a more progressive and liberal internationalist direction. Sanders wanted to reform the bloated US defence budget and military-industrial complex and attempt to tone down aggressive impulses in American foreign policy. With a little extra push in a few primaries and caucus he might well have secured the Democratic Party nomination.

This involvement by the British State in the internal political affairs of the United States is disconcerting. Not only did the British State intervene extensively in the 2016 US Presidential election to tip the balance towards the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it has at the same time being displaying a deeply ingrained prejudice and bigotry against all things Russian. Indeed, over the last few years the level of anti-Russian hysteria in England alongside the level of anti-EU hysteria has been an appalling and irrational spectacle to behold. Even in English police stations they now have posters up about how to look out for ‘Russian gangs’ etc. which is absolute rubbish, but then the English police are themselves utterly rubbish, as the world has witnessed recently with the disgraceful bungling of the Gatwick Airport drone fiasco. The English really need to calm down and focus on their own internal affairs such as the mess they have created for themselves with this thing of theirs called Brexit.

This British Government front called the Institute for Statecraft and its ‘Integrity Initiative’ was launched in 2015 by the British Government as a secret operation to propagate anti-Russia propaganda into the western media stream and create generally an aggressively hostile anti-Russian media narrative, for what purpose and to what end only the British Government and those who hold such severe and obsessive anti-Russian opinions can answer.

The Institute for Statecraft and its ‘Integrity Initiative’ programs where designed to smear anyone who does not follow the anti-Russia line. The Steele dossier which has been of such great help to the Robert Mueller Special Counsel Investigation was also a largely a British Government operation but seems to have actually emanated from this Institute for Statecraft mission. The ‘Integrity Initiative’ builds ‘cluster’ or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take anti-Russian action when the British State perceives a need.

It would seem there are some at the very highest levels of the British State who would like nothing more than to start an all out war against Russia, which would be the gravest strategic and human mistake probably made since the last monster thought he could achieve such a diabolical scheme circa 1941. And perhaps there are some at the top of the EU who have never forgiven nor gotten over that it was Russia that was the main liberator of the European continent against the German Nazi Third Reich and it was Russia who was the principle and superior opponent against the Wehrmacht.

Yet the fact of the matter is as per usual when the English are involved they generally end up causing more damage than good. All these anti-Russian efforts by the British State and involvement in the internal affairs of American politics such as infiltrating the Bernie Sanders campaign and gathering up a dossier on Donald Trump has ironically and paradoxically served to actually weaken to its worst level the US-UK ‘special relationship’. Quite possibly US-UK relations are at their lowest point. The management of the President of the United States’ visit to the UK was a public relations disaster for the British Government of Theresa May and Mr. Trump has made it quite clear he has little time for the British Prime Minister, openly attacking her handling of the Brexit negotiations, openly pining for Boris Johnson to replace her and openly stating that a US-UK Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit is not a certainty. Also President Trump has little time for Britain’s defence establishment and its pathetic and ridiculous Henry Jackson Society so-called Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. President Trump cannot stand pip squeaks like Gavin Williamson and that is why Trump kept the entire British Government in the dark about his troop pull outs in Syria and Afghanistan.

How can #Brexit be about democracy after this?

How can Brexit be about democracy after this?

How can Brexit be about democracy after this?

By Graham Vanbergen: I have written endlessly about the involvement of dark money and right-wing free-market fundamentalists agitating for Brexit who secured positions in high office and the very corridors of power. In my recent book, ‘Brexit – A corporate coup d’etat’ – I highlighted how they established, built and nurtured authoritative organisations to ensure that Brexit was not a wasted opportunity to push forward the next stage of the global reign of free markets

But don’t take my word for it. Some of our media partners at TruePublica have uncovered just as much democracy wrecking shenanigans going on in the background.

Take openDemocracy. They put an investigations team on following the money and found a link between foreign billionaires and Brexit just as I did. They found illicit secretive sources of political funding and exposed Arron Banks, the self-proclaimed ‘Bad boy of Brexit’ and the ongoing scandal of his huge donations. They even worked with accountants to show his insurance businesses were verging on bankruptcy at the time of the referendum and yet he brought £8 million to the Leave campaign. This donation is now under investigation.

Like me, they found the link with Steve Bannon, Trump, Cambridge Analytica and the now infamous Facebook data scandal. That wasn’t that hard but confirming the use of advanced social engineering systems that were used in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan designed originally to ‘change hearts and minds,’ was. But sadly, that too is a fact of the farce that Brexit has become.

Then there are our partners at Unearthed, the investigative arm of Greenpeace. Their undercover investigation, published in the Guardian, raised concerns about the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) work on Brexit that may have broken charity rules by campaigning for a specific policy outcome. It’s all about a hard Brexit and a US-UK free trade deal.

The IEA is registered as an educational charity. It has been under investigation by the Charity Commission since July as a result.

I go into some detail about the IEA and others and also highlight one American organisation in my book with over 450 business relationships and links to hard-right free-market think tanks, themselves linked to the hard right-wing Tea Party and other profit-driven fundamentalists. These powerful American outfits are also pushing for a hard Brexit and nothing less.

Carol Cadwalladr’s epic award-winning investigations published in The Guardian and The Observer highlighted the secrets of dark money and the foreign billionaires behind Brexit. Again, she was following the money and made the connections between big business interests and Brexit. The list of scandals uncovered by Cadwalladr continues to grow.

Then there’s Theresa May. She has been accused of holding secret weekly Brexit meetings with Cabinet ministers and civil servants of which no record has been made. This is unheard of outside of a wartime government. Of the clandestine gatherings, one insider told the London Evening Standard: “In terms of democracy this feels like a scandal.” It is.

This government is defined by its secretiveness and a desire to avoid any scrutiny whatsoever. Theresa May and her cabinet are now avoiding parliament on anything serious. The problem is, as I have said time and time again over the years even before she became the PM – Theresa May is an authoritarian leader, not a collaborative one who believes in democracy. She has decided what is best for the country and no parliamentary participation is allowed if it does not agree with her position. One only has to look at the scale of democracy denying instruments (such as trashing privacy and constructing the West’s biggest surveillance state) she brought to the country in her time at the Home Office.

The ‘Meaningful Vote’ was cancelled – but only because she was facing democratic defeat. A second vote was then forced upon May – a confidence vote leaving her badly wounded. But no second referendum is allowed. As far as the PM is concerned only she has the right to interpret the view of the country. Let’s not forget May pretty much lost a general election campaign in which she demanded a personal mandate. May disappears into secretive meetings precisely because she can’t communicate with anyone at all – not the electorate, or the Tory party or that of parliament. In the meantime, the government have just been accused of wasting £100,000 on a social media campaign to get support for her Brexit deal at the vote she just cancelled. It is not that May is in a difficult position – it’s that she is clueless as are her woeful advisors.

All these reports, investigations and scandals that have emerged since Britain’s EU referendum must surely lead everyone to conclude that the EU referendum result was, in fact, more the outcome of a paid-for propaganda exercise facilitated by ultra right-wing radicals in the Tory party than democracy in action. It is leading Britain into chaos.

Democracy was denied to Britain when we found out that foreign-born billionaires and corporations had massively overspent official campaigning budgets set in law. Democracy was denied when Theresa May came to power and it will continue to be denied as she constantly changes the goalposts to best suit her game.

There is only one thing we can be sure of. The ‘investors,‘ especially the vulture funds, hedge funds and special interest groups exposed by all these scandals are looking to profit from the very chaos that Brexit causes – and it is unbelievable how been successful that plan has turned out to be!

 

Graham Vanbergen is the contributing editor of TruePublica, a columnist at the European Financial Review and author of Brexit – A corporate coup d’etat.

#Brexit Dark money investigations: what we’ve found out, and why we’re looking

Dark money investigations: what we’ve found out, and why we’re looking

by Adam Ramsay

For the past two years openDemocracy has been tracking down the secretive, wealthy donors trying to influence British politics unseen.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage: two of “the bad boys of Brexit”. Image, Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

It started with the Democratic Unionist Party. We forced them to confess that a huge Brexit donation had come via a secretive group in Glasgow. We showed that the chair of that group was connected to the former head of Saudi intelligence and to a Danish man involved in gun-running in India.

We travelled round Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland, banging on doors and meeting sources, but were blocked at every turn. BBC Northern Ireland picked up the story and followed it to Kiev. We still don’t know for sure where this cash came from, but we did help force a change in the law, so this could never happen again.

Then there were the Scottish Tories. We showed that a huge portion of their surge in 2016 was funded by money from secretive sources, and eventually got one of those groups fined. An independent Scottish media organisation, The Ferret, followed our story, and forced an Electoral Commission investigation. And it’s not just the Scottish Tories. We exposed one of the key loopholes allowing dark money to flood into the Labour Party, UKIP and the Lib Dems too.

And then there was “the man who bought Brexit”, Arron Banks. Did the millions he poured into the Leave campaigns really come from his own pockets? We showed that he didn’t appear to be nearly as rich as he claimed: it was hard to understand how he could have afforded his lavish donations. We worked with accountants to show his insurance businesses were verging on bankruptcy at the time of the referendum, and with a reporter in Lesotho to show that his diamond mines didn’t have many diamonds.

The Bannon emails

We got our hands on emails from Banks showing that he’d asked Steve Bannon – advisor to Donald Trump, founder of Breitbart News and vice-president of Cambridge Analytica – for help fundraising in the US. We met sources who showed that he’d lied to Parliament, and then, when asked about our story on the BBC, that he’d lied again.

We looked at how the Brexit money was spent, showing how several supposedly independent campaigns used the same obscure merchandise company based at the end of a terraced row in Ely (and yes, we went to Ely). We explained how Cambridge Analytica itself is the result of the privatisation of military propaganda, and we examined the terrifying connections between the Brexit campaign and Britain’s growing role as the global hub of mercenary firms.

Our story on Darren Grimes, the 22-year-old given a £675,000 donation by Vote Leave, triggered the court case which led to the conclusion that Vote Leave broke the law and to the campaign being referred to the police. We then revealed that the police waited months before bothering to collect the key documents relating to the case.

We investigated a group called Veterans for Britain, who had also taken a large donation from Vote Leave, and exposed connections to the expanding network of privatised military and intelligence contractors – including the mercenary military propaganda firm SCL, and its subsidiary, Cambridge Analytica.

We were one of the first outlets to seriously investigate the European Research Group. We showed how they were set up to turn the UK into “a low-tax, offshore haven”, that they were funded from the public purse and that they had members who were ministers – in breach of the ministerial code. We were the first outlet to disclose their membership, and that they’ve had an office in the Houses of Parliament since the 1990s. And that they got a donation via the same secret group who funnelled cash to the DUP.

Weird interests

As Brexit ministers came and went, we investigated them, too. We showed Steve Baker’s web of weird interests, including that he took thousands of pounds from an arms company whilst sitting as vice-chair of the group lobbying for the arms industry in Parliament, and how he’s got longstanding links to the American radical right. When he stood down, we showed how his replacement, Dominic Raab, was moulded as a politician by the dark-money ‘think tank’ the Institute for Economic Affairs.

Which takes us to Britain’s dark-money-funded think tanks. We showed how a staff member for a group called the Legatum Institute, connected to a hedge fund in Dubai and owned by a disaster capitalist who made a fortune from the collapsing Soviet Union, had unprecedented access to government ministers during the Brexit process, despite the fact that no one is sure who is paying his wages. And when he took a job with a private lobbying agency despite sitting on Liam Fox’s committee of advisors, our story forced him to resign from that committee.

Our work has run in parallel to – and often intersected with – that of others: Carole Cadwalladr is, of course, the icon.

But here’s the bottom line. People have different interests and ideas, and politics is a negotiation between them. We are not investigating the dark money in British politics either because we are for Brexit or because we are against it. We are investigating dark money because the rich and powerful will always hide selfish demands behind the language of ideology and policy wonkery. They hide their political donations because they don’t want us to know that what their representatives say is paid-for propaganda. If we are to have an open and honest conversation about the future of the country, we first need to understand where everyone is really coming from, what people’s interests really are.

And that means we need to keep shining a light into the dark money poisoning our democracy.

So please, contribute to our appeal, so we can keep striving for an open democracy.

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