Did Russia’s ‘dark money’ influence Brexit vote?



An opposition lawmaker called on the British government on Thursday to investigate suspicions of Russian interference in Britain’s referendum on quitting the European Union, adding that there were “questions” about Arron Banks, one of the chief financial backers of the leave campaign, The New York Times reports:

Speaking in Parliament, the lawmaker, Ben Bradshaw of the Labour Party, said there was “widespread concern over foreign, and particularly Russian, interference in Western democracies.” He asked for assurances that “all the resources spent in the referendum campaign were from permissible sources.” Mr. Bradshaw’s intervention follows the publication of what he called “very worrying” reports “on the role of dark money” in the plebiscite….

The investigative reports into the financing of the leave campaign were published by the Open Democracy website and included a detailed examination of Mr. Banks’s finances…..The reports by Open Democracy, a liberal advocacy group, suggested that Mr. Banks, who had faced recent business setbacks, was considerably less wealthy than the $330 million he claimed, raising questions about how he was able to provide such large-scale financing for the Brexit cause.

On Thursday, former U.S. President George W. Bush warned against Russian disinformation and political interference in what one observer called one of the most important and profound speeches in modern presidential history.

With the Kremlin determined to undermine Western unity and resolve, Bush said that “cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence should never be downplayed or tolerated,” and described Russian interference as “broad, systemic and stealthy.”

Russia’s active measures techniques continue to adapt and evolve. Occupied with putting out a seemingly endless set of fires, the West is playing catch-up as Russia continues to implement its strategy of undermining democracies, says David Salvo, Resident Fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy. But with Russia using the same toolkit and exhibiting similar tactical patterns on both sides of the Atlantic, the United States has much to learn from our European partners and allies, he writes:

We need to develop new mechanisms to share information about threats and effective countermeasures, and work in concert to develop a playbook to defend against, deter, and raise the cost of Moscow’s activities. This needs to include building resilience and shoring up our own vulnerabilities. It also needs to include addressing the toolkit of Russian active measures holistically and breaking out of stove-piped responses to each Russian tactic to devise countermeasures to the range of hybrid threats. We also need to recognize that Russian strategic objectives go well beyond the 2016 presidential election, and that the threat we face is to the foundations of our democracy.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email