“Difficult – if not Impossible – to Prove” Russia Influenced Brexit Vote

Reading from the Russia report in this morning’s Intelligence and Security Committee press conference, ISC member Stewart Hosie MP said:

we saw that when we looking into allegations that Russia sought to influence voters in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’. 

“The actual impact of any such attempts on the result itself – by which I mean did the disinformation change how people voted – would be difficult – if not impossible – to prove.”

More widely the report finds:

  • Russian influence in the UK is the new normal”
  • Successive Governments have welcomed the oligarchs and their money with open arms, providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’, and connections at the highest levels with access to UK companies and political figures.
  • PR firms, charities, political interests, academia and cultural institutions were all willing beneficiaries of Russian money.
  • Greater powers and transparency are needed urgently.
  • Consideration should be given to Peers registering outside payments in the same way MPs do.
  • The UK is clearly a target for Russian disinformation.
  • No one Government organisation has considered itself to be in the lead or was willing to conduct an assessment of such interference.
  • The mechanics of the UK’s paper-based voting system are largely sound.

The report calls on social media companies to “take action and remove covert hostile state material” and says the “Government must ‘name and shame’ those who fail to act.” Read the report in full here

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