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Tuesday 21 July 2020

Brexit - Russia Report Damns Tories

And so the Russia Report was published, and by the time advertised. Now it is being pored over by interested parties, but one nugget of information has almost leapt off its pages: not only did the Government not know whether Russian actors had interfered in the 2016 EU referendum, they did not show the slightest inclination to find out. Hence the reassuring “no effect on the result” dead cat deployed by the Telegraph overnight.
It is not as if the Government did not know of Russian capability in this area: as the report makes plain early on, “The UK is clearly a target for Russia’s disinformation campaigns and political influence operations and must therefore equip itself to counter such efforts”.

However, the security agencies “have emphasised that they see their role in this as providing secret intelligence as context for other organisations, as part of a wider HMG response … they do not view themselves as holding primary responsibility for the active defence of the UK’s democratic processes from hostile foreign interference”.

So who does? Well, “the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) holds primary responsibility for disinformation campaigns … However, DCMS told us that its function is largely confined to the broad HMG policy regarding the use of disinformation rather than an assessment of, or operations against, hostile state campaigns. It has been surprisingly difficult to establish who has responsibility for what”. And the conclusion?

Overall, the issue of defending the UK’s democratic processes and discourse has appeared to be something of a ‘hot potato’, with no one organisation recognising itself as having an overall lead”. Now over to the specific case study on the Brexit vote.

There have been widespread public allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. The impact of any such attempts would be difficult - if not impossible - to assess, and we have not sought to do so. However, it is important to establish whether a hostile state took deliberate action with the aim of influencing a UK democratic process, irrespective of whether it was successful or not”. So what did the Government do? Sadly, it’s more a case of what they did not.

It was only when Russia completed a ‘hack and leak’ operation against the Democratic National Committee in the US … that it appears that the Government belatedly realised the level of threat which Russia could pose in this area [but] The written evidence provided to us appeared to suggest that HMG had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes”. And then came worse news.
We have not been provided with any post-referendum assessment of Russian attempts at interference … This situation is in stark contrast to the US handling of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, where an intelligence community assessment was produced within two months of the vote, with an unclassified summary being made public”. And the conclusion regarding the Brexit vote?

Whilst the issues at stake in the EU referendum campaign are less clear-cut, it is nonetheless the Committee’s view that the UK Intelligence Community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published”. Let’s see how others have viewed that.

The Guardian, for instance, has been quick out of the blocks with this assessment: “British government and British intelligence failed to prepare or conduct any proper assessment of Kremlin attempts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum … The damning conclusion is contained within the 50-page document from parliament’s intelligence and security committee”. That is why the “no interference” story is a dead cat.

Because the problem is that there could well have been interference - but the Government of the time, and indeed those that followed, didn’t bother to find out. And given the cavalier attitude in Downing Street to such matters, there probably won’t be any future attempt.

The only conclusion that can be reached is that Downing Street is so fearful of an inquiry finding that Russian actors swayed the vote towards Leave that they can’t bear the thought of having to handle the fallout. So this sleeping dog will be allowed to lie.
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Anonymous said...

So....no evidence of "Russian interference".

Zilch. Nada. Sweet FA. Bugger all.

Gosh, after all that noise.....😆

Arnold said...

Anon. There's no evidence because nobody has looked for any. Russia had the means, motive, and opportunity to destabilise the EU and the UK. So why wouldn't they try?

Anonymous said...


Do you have trouble reading? Or do you just not bother past the headline?

“British government and British intelligence failed to prepare or conduct any proper assessment of Kremlin attempts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum … The damning conclusion is contained within the 50-page document from parliament’s intelligence and security committee”

If no investigation is carried out, then it stands to reason no evidence will be found.

The same applies to the other side of the pond and Cambridge Analytica's involvement in the Leave campaign, which again was not investigated.

Maybe enlighten yourself and read Mindf*ck by Christopher Wylie, that is if you actually can read beyond the title page.

Uxbridge No Analytica said...

'London now crime free' declares Chief Commissioner, Chocolate T Kupp.
He added 'The Government's decision to replace uniformed and plain clothes officers with the Three Monkeys has been a great success.'

Anonymous said...

@ 12:15 and 12:31.

Never mind the bullshit rhetoric.

There is no evidence.

Unless of course either of you actually HAVE any evidence.

TIP: Allegations and speculation are not evidence.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:31 again.

Unfortunately for you I HAVE read Wylie's excellent book. You might want to re-read chapter 8, pages 133-154, From Russia With Likes.

You'll find this at the bottom of page 153, final paragraph: Was Cambridge Analytica involved in Russian disinformation efforts in the United States? No one can say for sure, and there's no single 'smoking gun' proving that Cambridge Analytica was the culprit, aided and abetted by Russia.

Nowhere in the book does Wylie PROVE anything concerning Russia other than CA met with Russians, as they met with many other nationalities. In fact, given what we now know about CA's dark origins (partly covered by Wylie) and activities it's just as likely to have been a WESTERN black ops programme. Which the Russians MIGHT have used for routine information gathering.

Your turn. Hopefully with some EVIDENCE of "Russian interference".....also your definition of "interference" and where it "succeeded". NOTE: mere assertions are not evidence.

grim northerner said...

He's just a wind up merchant, ignore him, I do.

Anonymous said...

Why have you this obsession with Russia? It matters nought, a complete waste of time looking for excuses because people didn't vote the way you lot wanted. Meanwhile China is abusing human rights left, right and centre and has been insidiously involving itself in our business for years. That's where we should be looking.

Anonymous said...

Arnold, China is doing more than trying . .. ...

Wigner said...

No evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit vote is contained in the report.

But, evidence that the British Government and security services actively avoided looking for any such evidence, is contained in the report.

The statement "there is no evidence" is incorrect, in fact we do not know if there is evidence, because we have not looked.

The questions are, why have we not looked, and what can we do about it now?

Anonymous said...

@ 13:51

"The same applies to the other side of the pond and Cambridge Analytica's involvement in the Leave campaign, which again was not investigated."

Did I mention any Russian involvement with CA? No.

Did I suggest there was actual evidence of interference? No.

What I did say (and also point to from the article) was that there was no investigation in either case and therefore no evidence could possibly be available. That is all.

You were the one crowing that nothing had been found when in reality no investigation had been done that might actually find any.

So all your shouty words are a complete waste of time as I'm not about to get into some pointless argument about nothing but you carry on if it makes you feel better.

Arnold said...

Anon 12:59. If a burglar leaves his DNA at a crime scene, it's evidence. Even if the police overlook it.

Anonymous said...

I know two Russians who voted leave, should I ask them who told them to do it ?

Anonymous said...

@ 16:53.

So STILL no evidence?

Anonymous said...


If motive, means and opportunity are your only measure...the list of POSSIBLE culprits is almost endless. Including the USA.

Anonymous said...

@ 16:49.

Do you have evidence there IS evidence to find,?

Anonymous said...

@ 17:54.

Any DNA evidence to prove your "point"?

Detective Renko said...

No one should be surprised that you know Russians.

Wigner said...

No I don't,the point is that we don't know if there is any evidence to find, or not, until we look. Those who say "there is no evidence" ignore that we haven't looked. Why?

N said...

Anonymous Alan Clifford (for it seems to be he) is STILL asserting Russia can do no wrong. No, that nice Mr. Putin definitely doesn't want to destabilise our country, and you Anonymous are definitely, absolutely not playing to the far right lie that this investigation was done properly.

Again, as others have pointed out, we all so wish you could read past the headline. Why the obsessive need to defend the Leave campaign I have no idea. If you don't try to find any evidence, you won't find it.

By the way Anon, we can tell you haven't read the book and in fact simply looked it up online before your comment.

Anonymous said...

Anyone got any ACTUAL EVIDENCE instead of Sun-type bullshit?

Wintered said...

The trolls seem a little... touchy, n'est ce pas ?

Meanwhile BoJo the Clown does his best Nelson impression: "I see no shits! Fwaaaah!"

Anonymous said...


You know, as required in a democratic legal process.....

grim northerner said...
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grim northerner said...

This comment has been added by the author.