Brexit

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United Kingdom: Corbyn to again call for general election to break Brexit deadlock | The Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn is to reiterate his call for the Brexit impasse to be put to the people in a general election, as Labour edged closer to pledging to call a no-confidence vote in Theresa May’s government if her departure plan is voted down in the Commons. At a speech in Wakefield on Thursday, the Labour leader is to argue that if May is unable to get her flagship piece of legislation past MPs next week then her government will have lost all authority, meaning an election is urgently needed. “So I say to Theresa May: if you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide,” he will say, according to extracts from the speech released in advance. “To break the deadlock an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option. It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in parliament and across the country.”

Full Article: Corbyn to again call for general election to break Brexit deadlock | Politics | The Guardian.

Ireland: 50,000 British living here set to lose vote in Euro election, says Mitchell | The Independent

Former MEP Gay Mitchell has warned that more than 50,000 British citizens living in Ireland are set to lose the right to vote in the European elections here following Brexit. Reciprocal voting arrangements for Irish and British citizens allow them to vote in general, local and European elections in each other’s countries. However, the former Fine Gael MEP has warned British citizens living here will lose the right to vote for MEPs after the UK leaves the EU. The next European Parliament election will be in May, less than two months after Brexit is due to happen at the end of March.

Full Article: 50,000 British living here set to lose vote in Euro election, says Mitchell - Independent.ie.

United Kingdom: EU court rules against British expats’ challenge over ‘illegal’ Brexit | The Local

A European Court has rejected an appeal by Brits living in Europe, including 97-year-old war veteran Harry Shindler, who claim that the Brexit referendum was invalid because at least a million Britons were deprived of a vote. Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy, and 12 other British expats questioned the legality of the Brexit referendum in 2016 because they and more than a million Britons living in the EU did not get to have their say due to the 15-year rule on voting rights for expats. That controversial rule bars any British citizen from voting in UK elections or referendums if they have been living out of the country for more than 15 years. The UK’s Conservative government has long promised to abolish the 15-year rule but failed to do so. The French lawyers representing the Brits said that due to this fact, the European Union should not have accepted the UK’s intention to withdraw and start negotiations for leaving the bloc.

Full Article: EU court rules against British expats' challenge over 'illegal' Brexit - The Local.

United Kingdom: The 8 million pound hole in Brexit: smoking gun or damp squib? | Reuters

Britain’s serious crime agency has started an investigation into Brexit backer Arron Banks over the source of 8 million pounds ($10.4 million) in loans to groups including Leave.EU which campaigned to leave the European Union. Banks has said the investigation is part of an attempt to undermine Brexit. He has repeatedly insisted that the money came from him and that no Russian funding was involved. But if criminal offences or foreign funding are proven, that could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the whole Brexit vote. The groups that received the loans ran emotive publicity campaigns to persuade people to vote to leave the EU – and the final result was close. In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying in the bloc. The focus is 8 million pounds in loans provided to Leave.EU and Better for the Country Limited (BFTC), which Banks controls and which ran Leave.EU’s campaign.

Full Article: The 8 million pound hole in Brexit: smoking gun or damp squib? | Reuters.

United Kingdom: Vote Leave broke electoral law and British democracy is shaken | The Guardian

Vote Leave has been fined £61,000 after being found guilty of breaking electoral law during the Brexit campaign. Two people have been referred to the police. But with this initial investigation concluded, Britain faces a difficult period of soul searching over what to do about this evidence of extensive wrongdoing. A democracy is only as strong as the elections that set its course. If they can be bought or subverted, then confidence in democracy and the legitimacy of the governments it installs, seeps away. But astonishingly, the details that have been gradually revealed, of illegal activity by both the official Vote Leave and the unofficial Leave.EU campaigns in the run-up to the Brexit vote, appear to have no immediate consequences. Most British elections are guaranteed by law. If evidence of serious cheating is uncovered they can be scrutinised and overturned in an “election court”, overseen by high court judges.

Full Article: Vote Leave broke electoral law and British democracy is shaken | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Vote Leave: Pro-Brexit group fined by electoral commission | CNN

The official pro-Brexit campaign group has been fined and referred to the police after the UK’s elections watchdog found it had broken Britain’s strict electoral laws. The Electoral Commission fined Vote Leave £61,000 ($81,000) for coordinating with another campaign group — called BeLeave — and exceeding spending limits during the 2016 referendum campaign. In a damning ruling, the commission said it had imposed a punitive fine on Vote Leave, and accused it of frustrating the watchdog’s investigation. “We found substantial evidence that the two groups (Vote Leave and BeLeave) worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits,” said Bob Posner, Electoral Commission director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, in a statement.

Full Article: Vote Leave: Pro-Brexit group fined by electoral commission - CNN.

United Kingdom: Watchdog investigates links between Canadian data firm and Vote Leave | The Guardian

The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating the relationship between the Canadian data firm AggregateIQ, Vote Leave and a number of other leave campaigns, the body has said in a report published on Wednesday. The investigation is one of the many started by the ICO in response to reporting by the Observer and Guardian suggesting that widespread data misuse may have occurred during the EU referendum period. The ICO report, citing data handed over by Facebook in May, says: “AIQ created and, in some cases, placed advertisements on behalf of the DUP Vote to Leave campaign, Vote Leave, BeLeave, and Veterans for Britain.

Full Article: Watchdog investigates links between Canadian data firm and Vote Leave | Technology | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Brexit’s biggest campaign donor ‘investigated by National Crime Agency over links to Russia’ | The Independent

Brexit’s biggest campaign donor is reportedly being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) over alleged links to Russia. The NCA was handed emails belonging to multimillionaire Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, revealing previously undisclosed meetings between the businessman and the Russian ambassador in London, according to The Times. The emails reportedly show Mr Banks was offered three Russian business deals in the buildup to the Brexit vote, including a gold mine in west Africa and a stake in Russia’s state-owned diamond mining organisation Alrosa. The revelations about the extent of Mr Banks’s Russian contacts will trigger further scrutiny as to whether the Russians sought to influence the Brexit vote. 

Full Article: Brexit's biggest campaign donor 'investigated by National Crime Agency over links to Russia' | The Independent.

United Kingdom: A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote | The New Yorker

Christopher Wylie—the twenty-eight-year-old whistle-blower who has detailed how Cambridge Analytica, the controversial political-consulting firm, harvested personal data from as many as fifty million Facebook users—appeared before a committee of British M.P.s on Tuesday. During Wylie’s almost four hours of testimony, he rejected the various dodges, equivocations, and denials that his former employer has made about its use of Facebook data. “It is categorically untrue, categorically untrue, that Cambridge Analytica has never used Facebook data,” Wylie said. “Facebook’s data, and the acquisition using Aleksandr Kogan’s app, was the foundational data of the company. That is how the algorithms were developed. They spent a million dollars, at least, on that acquisition project.”

Full Article: A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote | The New Yorker.

United Kingdom: Facebook to hand over details of Russian-backed Brexit posts | The Guardian

Facebook has agreed to hand over information showing the reach of Russian-backed postings during the Brexit referendum by early December, according to the House of Commons media watchdog. Damian Collins, the chair of parliament’s culture, media and sport committee, said he believed the figures would give the UK a better idea of whether Russia tried to influence the vote on leaving the EU. Facebook handed over similar information in the US showing that during the presidential campaign about 123 million people were reached by false news generated by a single troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, in St Petersburg.

Full Article: Facebook to hand over details of Russian-backed Brexit posts | Technology | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Electoral Commission launches inquiry into leave campaign funding | The Guardian

Vote Leave is under investigation by the Electoral Commission over whether it breached the £7m EU referendum spending limit, with allegations being made that it channelled funds for a social Brexit media campaign via £625,000 in donations to a student. The watchdog said that the new information meant it had “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed” and said it would examine if the Boris Johnson and Michael Gove-fronted campaign had filed its returns correctly. Its unexpected intervention came as the commission was facing a legal challenge from remain grassroots campaigners, unhappy that it had dropped a previous investigation into the spending of Vote Leave and satellite Brexit campaigns that are accused of not being properly independent of it.

Full Article: Electoral Commission launches inquiry into leave campaign funding | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: UK to step up investigation into big tech’s Russia ties | Financial Times

MPs are stepping up their inquiry into fake news in an effort to extract answers from Facebook and Twitter about the extent of Russian interference in last year’s EU referendum and this year’s UK general election. Russian entities are known to have bought adverts on Facebook and generated election-related content before Donald Trump won last year’s US presidential election, while authorities in France and Germany have said their elections were also targeted.

Full Article: UK to step up investigation into big tech’s Russia ties.

United Kingdom: Rising alarm in Britain over Russian meddling in Brexit vote | The Washington Post

New investigations released this week suggest the Russians meddled in Britain’s historic referendum last year to leave the European Union, placing an already weakened Prime Minister Theresa May in a most awkward position — just when she needs to be her strongest in Brexit negotiations. The evidence that the Russians, with possible support from the Kremlin, bombarded British targets with social media tweets and posts was splashed on the nightly news and front pages in Britain. Even so, the prime minister and her office stressed that Russian propaganda had “no direct successful influence” on the Brexit vote. Critics of May say an admission that Russia tried to dupe British voters could raise questions about the Conservative Party’s mandate to extricate Britain from the European Union.

Full Article: Rising alarm in Britain over Russian meddling in Brexit vote - The Washington Post.

United Kingdom: Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK | The Guardian

On “or about” 25 April 2016, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign team emailed his line manager with good news. His efforts to make contact with the highest levels of power in Moscow had borne fruit: “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr Trump to meet him when he is ready.” This was George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign who was arrested by the FBI in July, it was revealed last week, after lying about a series of meetings with a man the FBI described as “a professor based in London”. The next sentence in his email added a line of explanation: “The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral cities’.” The Papadopoulos indictment is a riveting read – a sober, tautly worded document whose contents may have exploded across the news cycle like a dirty bomb, but which sticks to the facts. In doing so, it could provide not just evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, but also the first cold, hard evidence of Britain’s central role.

Full Article: Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: UK lawmakers ask Facebook for any evidence of Russian-linked Brexit activity | Reuters

A British parliamentary committee has written to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg asking for information on any paid-for activity by Russian-linked Facebook accounts around the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 UK election. The request was made by Damian Collins, chair of parliament’s Digital, Media and Sport Committee as part of its effort to gather evidence for an inquiry it is conducting into fake news. “Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” Collins wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg circulated to media by the committee.

Full Article: UK lawmakers ask Facebook for any evidence of Russian-linked Brexit activity.

United Kingdom: Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire? | The Guardian

On 18 November 2015, the British press gathered in a hall in Westminster to witness the official launch of Leave.EU. Nigel Farage, the campaign’s figurehead, was banished to the back of the room and instead an American political strategist, Gerry Gunster, took centre stage and explained its strategy. “The one thing that I know is data,” he said. “Numbers do not lie. I’m going to follow the data.” Eighteen months on, it’s this same insight – to follow the data – that is the key to unlocking what really happened behind the scenes of the Leave campaign. On the surface, the two main campaigns, Leave.EU and Vote Leave, hated one other. Their leading lights, Farage and Boris Johnson, were sworn enemies for the duration of the referendum. The two campaigns bitterly refused even to share a platform.

Full Article: Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire? | Technology | The Guardian.

Ireland: Brexit vote makes united Ireland suddenly thinkable | Reuters

Protestant unionists are queuing for Irish passports in Belfast and once quiet Catholic nationalists are openly campaigning for a united Ireland, signs of deep shifts in the United Kingdom’s most troubled province since Britain voted to leave the EU. Eighteen years after a peace deal ended decades of fighting between mainly Catholic nationalists who favour a united Ireland and mainly Protestant unionists who favour remaining part of the United Kingdom, Britain’s Brexit vote is making people on both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland think the unthinkable. Northern Ireland, like neighbouring Scotland, voted to stay in the European Union, with 56 pecent in favour, even though Britain as a whole voted to leave the bloc.

Full Article: Brexit vote makes united Ireland suddenly thinkable | Reuters.

United Kingdom: Young people on the EU referendum: ‘It is the end of one world, of the world as we know it’ | The Guardian

The vote to leave the EU felt personal for Amalie Rust O’Neill, a graphic design student born and brought up in Brighton but with family from Sweden, Poland and Ireland. “My family are the Polish builders. I am the person they are voting to keep out,” said the 22-year-old. “I felt sick, scared and sad.” After years of work for a degree, her hopes for the next decade were crushed on the same day as she got her results. And she feels they were torn up by an older generation with no concern for either the future of their country or the dreams of its young people. “As a creative, living and working abroad has always been a dream. The fact that it has been stripped away is horrible. The fact that people chose to strip it away is worse,” she says. That anger and despair was echoed by young people around the country, who chose overwhelmingly to stay inside Europe and now feel betrayed by the older voters who secured victory for Brexit. About three-quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds who voted cast ballots for Remain, while three in five over-60s opted to Leave, surveys show.

Full Article: Young people on the EU referendum: ‘It is the end of one world, of the world as we know it’ | Politics | The Guardian.

Editorials: Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance | Ilya Somin/The Washington Post

Since last week’s Brexit vote, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the result many have been influenced by widespread political ignorance. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, there was a massive spike in internet searches in Britain asking questions like “What is the EU?” and “What does it mean to leave the EU?” Obviously, reasonably well-informed voters should have known the answers to these questions before they went to the polls instead of after. The aftermath of Brexit has also spawned the so-called “Regrexit” phenomenon: Britons who voted for Brexit, but now regret doing so because they feel they were misinformed about the likely consequences, or did not consider them carefully enough. A petition on the British Parliament website calling for a revote has collected over 3.4 million signatures (Parliament is required to consider any petition that gets over 100,000 signatures, though it does not have to grant it).

Full Article: Brexit, “Regrexit,” and the impact of political ignorance [updated with brief comment on post-referendum survey data] - The Washington Post.

Spain: Brexit could play a last-minute role as Spain tries again to elect a government | The Washington Post

Spaniards go to the polls on Sunday to end months of political gridlock, and Britain’s historic vote to sever ties with the European Union could play an important, last-minute role. The election is an unprecedented repeat. The four main parties — the conservative Popular Party, the Socialist Party and two newcomers — were unable to form a coalition government after an inconclusive election in December. The  Popular Party has acted as a caretaker government since then. Polls have indicated that the voting might again end in stalemate, prolonging the paralysis. But analysts say Brexit could further empower the anti-establishment, giving those most critical of European unity a boost. That might tip the scale in favor of the radical-leftist party, which had already looked set to oust the Socialists as the main voice on the left.

Full Article: Brexit could play a last-minute role as Spain tries again to elect a government - The Washington Post.