Although Brexit is the biggest political process our country has gone through in peacetime, there is remarkably little political analysis of what it means. By this I mean a thorough analysis of the power shifts that are taking place, of the powerful global forces that lie behind the decision to leave the European Union, and of how they are changing the present and future of our country.
Together with my team, I decided to look into the key players and what their interests are and we published what we found on our website, which we called the Bad Boys of Brexit, a satirical twist on the self-congratulatory book of the same title by Arron Banks, who has the pleasure of having me as his MEP. We explain exactly who funded Brexit and profile those directing the lawbreaking and electoral manipulation that marred what can no longer be considered a democratic process.
While many of us were grieving and some of us celebrating the result on 24 June 2016, some of the most powerful people in the world were organising. They grasped Brexit as the opportunity they had been waiting for to undermine democracy and the gains of democracy for everyday people. Some of the richest men in the world have used our country as a testing-ground for their ideas and hope to use the post-Brexit divisions in the UK to pioneer their hideous, dystopian future.
These people are a part of what we have termed the Brexit Syndicate, which includes many well-known organisations as well as some that are much more secretive. Take, for example, Daniel Hannan’s Initiative for Free Trade, which is assembling the world’s most extreme free traders to argue against any democratic restraint on global corporate activity. Together with the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) they are organising shadow trade talks with the US ultra-libertarian Cato Institute. Given the latter’s close ties to ministers and the European Research Group (ERG) we can see how these shadowy bodies funded by foreign billionaires are designing our future.
In a healthy democracy, political discussion would take place between those who hold electoral office – and thus represent thousands of their fellow citizens – and independent and well-informed experts and commentators from a range of views. What is distorting our public debate today is the large volume of air-time given to fake think-tanks that are really publicity machines for the rich and powerful, many of them members of the Brexit Syndicate.
Why should we have to put up with Kate Andrews lobbying on behalf of US health corporations and telling us we should privatise the NHS (under the guise of representing the IEA) or Chloe Westley (of the Tax Dodgers Alliance) telling us on Any Questions that the answer to every political problem is lower taxes? Westley was previously head of social media for Vote Leave and so was responsible for the deceitful and divisive ads sent to Facebook users during the referendum campaign. It is an outrage that she is now given a platform to lobby for her wealthy patrons.
It is particularly galling to see such people being given acres of airtime on the BBC, the public service broadcaster we pay for. I have launched a petition calling on the BBC to only have contributors who come from organisations that are transparent about their sources of funding. This is not about attacking but rather defending free speech. We need to know that those we are listening to are honest brokers, not lobbyists for the rich and powerful.
Brexit has sent shockwaves through our democracy – and powerful men who despise democracy are capitalising on the crisis. Rather than stabilise and underpin the foundations of our political system, too many politicians are supporting and working with these dark forces. Please share this information and stand up against these abuses when you see them. The stakes could not be higher.
The petition to stop the BBC giving airtime to organisations without transparent funding can be viewed and signed on the Avaaz community petitions website.
Find out more about the global organisations working behind the scenes in the UK at the Brexit Syndicate website.