Field Marshal Lord Guthrie

💰🔥🇷🇺Charles Guthrie was head of the British army from 1994 to 1997 before becoming Chief of Defence Staff from 1997 to 2001. He is a member of the advisory board of pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain and was vocal in his criticism of the EU in the run-up to the referendum.

“It’s absolutely unrealistic to think we are all going to work together,” he proclaimed in the Daily Telegraph. “When things get really serious, we need the Americans. That’s where the power is.”

Guthrie himself has a pretty good idea of where a certain kind of power lies. Since retiring from the army, he has moved into the world of private intelligence firms. He is currently Senior Advisor to the Chairman of Arcanum Global, whose company boasts of having “Superstar spies that have graced Arcanum’s board, including the late Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad.”

Shortly after the EU referendum in June 2016, Arcanum’s chairman, Ron Wahid, wrote an article for USA Today hailing the result as “an opportunity for American businesses” and saying that “international firms should look at Britain as a tax refuge in a European sea of high corporate rates”.

Research by OpenDemocracy has shown that Guthrie has also made very large amounts of money through his extensive business links with Russia and other former Soviet-bloc countries. From 2008 to 2015 he was a director of Petropavlovsk, which mines gold in Russia’s far east. He also has lucrative ties with oil interests in the Middle East, and from 2012 to 2015 was a Director of Bermuda-registered Gulf Keystone Petroleum, which operates mainly in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Guthrie is a shareholder in Palantir Technologies, a data analysis company co-founded by the US billionaire Peter Thiel and integral to the Brexit Syndicate, a major donor to Donald Trump and a board member and a significant investor in Facebook.

Guthrie is or has been on the boards of an interesting range of other companies, including the investment bank N M Rothschild & Sons and the US arms manufacturer Colt Defense.

Photo credit: Extracted from U.S. Department of Defense photo



Raheem Kassam

🔥Raheem Kassam is one of the self-styled “Bad Boys of Brexit” who appeared grinning alongside Donald Trump in the infamous photo at Trump Tower – in fact, he helped set that meeting up.

His path to that moment of ‘glory’ had led him from being a Conservative activist to UKIP, where he served as chief adviser to Nigel Farage. In 2014 he was appointed London editor of Breitbart News, the extreme right-wing publication funded by Robert Mercer and run by Steve Bannon, which was credited by Farage as having “helped hugely” with Brexit. Kassam has also previously worked for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the influential lobbying group run by Vote Leave CEO Matthew Elliott.

Kassam’s career as a “journalist” began at the right-wing online magazine The Commentator, from which he was sacked for what the publication described as “gross and extreme misconduct”. His writing since then has been marked by a particular animus against Muslims. In 2017 he published his book No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, to the applause of extreme right-wingers such as Tommy Robinson (grateful, it seems, for all the positive coverage Kassam had given him). The anti-Muslim shock-jock and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was only too delighted to let Kassam plug the book on his InfoWars channel, where Kassam claimed that “there are vast swathes of Europe, and indeed here in the United States now, that are turning into enclaves for migrants…establishing their Koranic law, their Islamic rules.”

Kassam is particularly noted for the abuse he directs at those he sees as political enemies or rivals. For instance, in June 2016 he tweeted that Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should have her “mouth taped shut. And her legs, so she can’t reproduce“. In January 2018, he told Sky News that London had become “a shithole” under Mayor Sadiq Khan, echoing the word used by Donald Trump to describe non-white countries.

His views are seen as extreme even by some within UKIP. Former UKIP leadership candidate Suzanne Evans, for instance, has described him as “toxic”. Kassam had probably not endeared himself to Evans by referring to her in tweets as “a wrinkly old ginger bird” and  “a rotting corpse”.

In September 2014 Kassam accompanied Farage on a trip to the US that helped connect the then UKIP leader to leading far-right ideologues and funders in that country, including Bannon and Robert Mercer. Farage reportedly later wrote that it was this that convinced him and Kassam of “the extraordinary power of online media”. According to the anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate, “Kassam has been widely held responsible for the implementation of the ‘shock and awful’ TV debate strategy, whereby Farage would make inflammatory, xenophobic comments – such as deploying statistics about foreigners with HIV and referring to a ‘fifth column’ of Muslims in the UK.”

In 2015, Kassam and his close associate Matthew Richardson were sacked as Farage’s advisers after UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn described them as “wrong ‘uns” who wanted to take UKIP “in a direction of some hard right ultra-aggressive American Tea Party movement.”.  O’Flynn observed that they had helped turn Farage into a “snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive” man and risked turning the party into a “personality cult”.

Undeterred, in October 2016 Kassam made a bid for the UKIP leadership, describing himself as “the “Faragest of the Faragists“. He was supported in this by the party’s main funder Arron Banks, but withdrew from the contest at the last minute, perhaps realising he had little chance of winning.

His chances had not been improved by his calling for ex-members of fascist organisations such as the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL) to be admitted to the party, or by his having addressed a rally of the far-right anti-Muslim group Pegida in Birmingham earlier that year, alongside Pegida’s German founder Lutz Bachmann. Kassam has also profiled Bachmann, who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred, in glowing terms for Breitbart.

One senior UKIP source was quoted as saying: “He associates with Tommy Robinson and spoke at a Pegida rally… If someone like Kassam wanted to stand as a UKIP candidate for their local council they wouldn’t be allowed. But he’s allowed to publicly disgrace us by standing for leader.”

Kassam’s extreme views were no obstacle to his being appointed managing editor of Breitbart News – quite the opposite. This gave him a high-profile platform to pursue his far-right agenda – and to offer support to the Brexit campaign of Banks, Farage and Leave.EU. It appears that this support may have gone beyond running frequent stories attacking the EU and immigrants.

In October 2017, two whistle-blowers from within UKIP filed complaints over the “unusual arrangements” they claimed the party had made with Breitbart in the months before the referendum. They alleged that individuals paid by Breitbart were working as senior unpaid UKIP volunteers. No such support had been declared to the Electoral Commission (as the law requires) and, if the allegations were true, this would have constituted an indirect – and illegal – political donation by a foreign donor, Breitbart being an American-owned publication. The Guardian quoted UKIP sources expressing alarm at “what they viewed as a ‘deliberate strategy’ by Breitbart to wield influence over the Party in ways that emphasised views against migrants and other far-right positions”.

Jeremy Hosking

💰Hosking is a multimillionaire city asset manager who donated £1.5 million towards Vote Leave’s Brexit campaign. Hosking launched his own “Brexit Express” poster campaign in the lead up to the referendum.

His focus during the referendum and since has been on Labour voters, donating £50,000 to the Labour Leave campaign and seeking to expose divisions within the party over Brexit. You might think this a little odd for somebody who had previously donated £100,000 to the Conservative Party ahead of the 2015 general election.

During the 2017 general election campaign, he gave financial support to pro-Brexit candidates, saying he wanted to help give Theresa May “an army” of pro-Brexit MPs that was “fully equipped and as big as possible”. This was a clear attempt to use his private wealth to slant the new parliament towards his own Brexit views, especially in anticipation of what he expected would be ‘some short-term economic pain’ and thus potentially change public opinion.

In 2016, Hosking was found by a court to have breached his contractual and fiduciary duties to his former company Marathon Asset Management and was ordered to pay £1.38 million in damages. He was also ordered to pay back £10.4 million he had received in profits from the firm while still working there.

Hosking’s approach to business ethics is similarly dubious. He invested heavily in online retailer Amazon and speaks admiringly of CEO Bezos’s business strategy: “He’s sowing addiction”. According to online financial news site fn, ‘he likes Tim Martin’s UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon for similar reasons.’

Hosking is a shareholder in Premier League football club Crystal Palace. He was reported to have been annoyed when the league’s Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said that  Brexit “doesn’t seem to sit very well when you travel the world like we do. There is an openness about the Premier League. I think it would completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position.”

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Michael Ashcroft

Ashcroft is a billionaire, a long-time tax-exile in Belize, and a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party who has donated millions to the party. He was also a key supporter of the Brexit campaign.

Ashcroft’s connections with Belize are significant. It was in July 2015, during “a hard night drinking” with Ashcroft in San Pedro, Belize, that Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, along with Ashcroft’s fellow Belizean businessman Andy Wigmore, “resolved to start preparing immediately for the referendum campaign”.

In 2017 Ashcroft was ranked as the 95th richest person in the UK by the Sunday Times Rich List, with wealth estimated at £1.35 billion. He moved many of his interests to Belize in the early 1990s and his complex web of companies includes many that are registered there. He now exerts considerable influence on the small country, where – as the Economist reports – his holding companies control the country’s biggest bank, Belize Bank.

According to the Guardian, Ashcroft “encouraged local politicians to pass laws between 1990 and 1992 which set up flags of convenience, and secretive offshore “international business companies” and trusts, in return for paying annual registration fees to the government.” This all helped create business for Ashcroft’s bank, to which the operation of Belize’s offshore registry was subcontracted. The newspaper quotes from a report into the resulting state of affairs by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):

“Some members of the government and the business community are sceptical regarding the act’s real benefits to the country. They see some benefits going to lawyers and accountants associated with Belize Bank, but little benefit to the rest of the country. It is … a mechanism whereby illicit activities could be disguised by shrewd operators. The secrecy of information would allow drug traffickers freedom in establishment of companies under the IBC act to conceal or transfer drug proceeds. The confidentiality of companies, names, officers and account information makes it almost impossible … to investigate any allegations of illegal activities.”

In 1999, Labour MP Peter Bradley raised questions about Ashcroft in the House of Commons. He said:

“Mr Ashcroft is a man whom our former high commissioner in Belize, Mr. David Mackilligin, described last week as ‘an object of suspicion to governments in the area, especially the Americans who have to cope with constant war against drug-runners and money-launderers’.

Bradley went on to write, in a letter that appeared in The Times: 

“He cannot escape responsibility for establishing a system that makes Belize a much more tempting target for drug-runners than it would be and for resisting efforts to regulate it properly in order presumably to maximise his company’s profit.”

Ashscroft denied that he had any involvement in any illegal activities and brought a libel action against the Sunday Times, which had published a piece investigating his affairs. He claimed damages against the newspaper of up to £100m. The case was settled out of court and the newspaper was forced to publish a retraction. However, no damages were paid and nor did the newspaper pay Ashcroft’s costs.

Ashcroft has been one of the biggest donors to the Conservative Party in recent history, transferring donations of £5.1m between 2003 and 2008 via his company Bearwood Corporate Services. These donations, which involved a complex series of transactions through offshore companies, were the subject of an investigation by the Electoral Commission. It found no law had been broken. However, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott warned: “Democracy is in danger if Lord Ashcroft has been pouring millions into Conservative campaigns through an offshore pipeline from a Caribbean tax haven.”

Ashcroft’s business practices in the UK have also come in for intense criticism. In 2003, a High Court Judge said of the tactics he had used during the takeover of another company:

“It is the kind of thing which brings the City into disrepute … the purpose of the City is to raise finance to enable companies to develop businesses for their own and the country’s well-being. Where matters are dealt with in speculation and profits are made, which are then gathered offshore, when there is no merit and no exposure to the kind of risks associated with companies, that to my mind is not legitimate.”  He also criticised Ashcroft’s failure to come to court to give evidence, saying the aim had been to reveal “as little as possible about the Ashcroft empire and its connections”.

Ashcroft has a particular dislike of the regulations the EU places on business. The day before the referendum in 2016, he warned that “damaging new rules are already planned concerning ports, the art market, online television, electrical appliances and VAT. ”  As it happens, in 2010 Ashcroft had been accused of avoiding VAT on opinion polls he commissioned for the Conservatives by paying for these through a company he owned in Belize.

Being resident in Belize has not been without its downside for Ashcroft. He was initially rejected for a peerage in 1999 by the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee on the grounds that he spent most of his time abroad in Belize and Florida and conducted almost all of his financial affairs overseas. When he was made a Conservative peer the following year, Ashcroft made a written undertaking giving his “clear and unequivocal assurance” that he had decided to take up “permanent residence in the UK again before the end of this calendar year”. However, in 2010 he was forced to admit that he had not in fact done this and was still a “non-dom”.

He promised at that time that he would finally be taking up residence in the UK – a change in the law would have required him to give up his peerage otherwise. But documents leaked in the Paradise Papers scandal of 2017 showed that Ashcroft remained a domicile of Belize even after 2010. They also showed that he had been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from an offshore trust in Bermuda.

By this time, however, Ashcroft had retired from the Lords, saying that “my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires”.

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Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson is a former cabinet minister, climate change “sceptic” and hard-line Brexiter.

A regulation burner through and through, he has spent much of his political life railing against “EU red tape”, seeing this as an integral part of his neo-liberal Thatcherite ideology. Paterson’s war on “red tape” has dovetailed neatly with his refusal to accept well-established climate science.  He opposes government support for renewable energy but backs fracking to the hilt, and when his views on climate change have been challenged he has trotted out myth after discredited myth.

He appears to have used his role as Environment Secretary in Cameron’s government as an opportunity to wage ideological war on the environment. As George Monbiot has observed, it was Paterson who:

“insisted on a mass cull of badgers against scientific advice, who stripped away the last regulations protecting the soil from erosion, who believed that “the purpose of waterways is to get rid of water,” who sought to turn our rivers into featureless gutters, and who championed the pesticides that appear to be destroying bees and other animals.”

Bizarrely, he has claimed that “we will use taking back control of our borders to better protect our native fauna and flora”, giving as examples protection against “the signal crayfish and the alien grey squirrel”. Both species were introduced from America, a country Paterson says will offer a “very big and exciting” new trade deal.

Owen Paterson claims to be one of three founding MPs of the Vote Leave referendum campaign group who developed the “take back control” of our laws, money and  borders message. Along with “hard” Brexiters such as Farage, Banks and Tice, he sees a “no deal WTO rules” Brexit as desirable, saying that “it is an ineluctable certainty that we’re going to end up with WTO at the end of this.”

He also believes that “an abrupt departure from the EU would give the UK the opportunity to strike trade deals with fast-growing economies outside the EU and would generate reduced food prices, since the UK would no longer have to impose the EU’s high tariffs against non-EU agricultural goods.” The NFU’s policy director Martin Haworth has described this as “the absolute nightmare scenario” for British farmers:

“We’d be outside the EU, we’d lose access to the single market, we’d have lower tariff barriers so food prices would drop and farmers’ prices would come down, and our farmers wouldn’t be subsidised, whereas our competitors would be, both in Europe and in large parts of the world.”

Paterson stunned a meeting of Cameron’s coalition cabinet by suggesting that EU workers who currently do much hard and essential farming work in Britain should be replaced by pensioners. He claimed they would be happy to pick fruit and vegetables for less than the minimum wage. One Whitehall official, reported his cabinet colleague David Laws, “tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh”.

Paterson’s comments have frequently, as the Independent observes, “caused some degree of bafflement and derision.”

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Richard Tice

🔥Richard Tice is a multi-millionaire property developer and co-founder with Arron Banks of Leave.EU. Since the referendum, he has continued to push for a hard Brexit as co-chair of Leave Means Leave.

Tice is CEO of the asset management group Quidnet Capital LLP, which has around £500 million of property under management. The company’s website boasts that he “has over 27 years experience in international real estate markets covering physical property, corporate activity, financing and distressed debt in both the quoted and unquoted sectors”. It also notes that Tice “ran his own distressed debt advisory business until late 2009”.

“Distressed debt” is a branch of what many see as “vulture capitalism“, and involves buying up companies that have run into trouble, often because of dire economic conditions. The Guardian has described how this typically works:

“The funds circle struggling firms and buy their debt at a discount to gain control of the business. Usually hedge funds or proprietary desks at large investment banks, the funds may turn their debt into equity in a restructuring, gaining a stake or full control of the firm, or sell the assets in a liquidation, receiving a higher price for the debt than they paid for it.”

Many might think that the economic chaos caused by Brexit will create the ideal conditions for “distressed debt” specialists such as Tice.

Tice, however, prefers to maintain that Brexit is a revolt against the “metropolitan liberal elite” who are “completely oblivious to the concerns of millions of hard-working British families across the country”.

Extract from Private Eye

Some of Tice’s property developments have attracted unfavourable attention. With the Earl of Bathurst, he is a director of Bathurst Development Limited, which plans to build thousands of houses on the edge of Cirencester, increasing the size of the town by 40%. Land for the proposed Chesterton development is held by a trust registered in Bermuda – a tax haven – enabling Bathurst Development to avoid paying a very large amount of capital gains tax on the scheme. Lord Bathurst has defended this dodge by saying that when the avoided tax is spread across the UK to the Outer Hebrides “it won’t be very much”.

Until 2014, Tice was CEO of CLS Holdings. One of its lucrative projects (before Tice became CEO) was a major leisure/retail development in Vauxhall that was warmly supported by Tice’s fellow Brexit cheerleader, the constituency’s Labour MP Kate Hoey. Tice’s friendship with Hoey goes back 20 years, according to Arron Banks’ book.  He led two major planning applications for over 1.5 million sq ft of property in Vauxhall, including for two 50-storey residential towers.

As co-chair of Leave Means Leave, Tice has urged Theresa May’s government not to agree any kind of transitional arrangement with the EU, which he claims is “completely unnecessary”, and demanded that the UK leave the Single Market “no later than two years after triggering Article 50”. In December 2017 he co-wrote an open letter to May’s Cabinet insisting that it must “break with EU red tape”, and that “it should be non-negotiable that the UK is free to diverge from EU rules and regulations when it leaves the EU on March 29th 2019.”

In June 2017 Tice announced that he was setting up a new, £100m investment trust. “I would have done [this] had Brexit not happened,” he said. “But for all the doomsayers who think the world is going to end, I think the opportunities are growing.”

For certain types of ultra-wealthy investor, there’s little doubt that Brexit will offer very rich pickings indeed.

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Andy Wigmore

Andy Wigmore

🔥Andy Wigmore was communications director for the Leave.EU campaign and is one of the “Brex Pistols” who met with Donald Trump for that infamous gold elevator photo. A close associate of Arron Banks, he has been a director of various business entities created by Banks, including Southern Rock Insurance.

Wigmore likes to present himself and other Brexit campaigners as “patriots“. Yet while he was pushing the supposedly “patriotic” Brexit project, Wigmore was a diplomat for the government of Belize, of which he is a citizen. As a diplomat promoting trade and investment at the Belize High Commission in London, he was working to advance Belizean business interests. Indeed, Wigmore has enthused about how “Brexit will be excellent for Belize” – a country that has been described as “Central America’s premier destinations for offshore company formations opportunities” and as “struggling with an onslaught of drug trafficking“.

In one profile, Wigmore is described as “an outsider…desperate to shock, annoy and irritate”. An acquaintance is quoted saying: “He loves being one of the gang but he is happy to let Nigel and Arron take most of the limelight. He sees himself as the guy behind the scenes pulling the strings. And, to be fair to him, he is very good at it. That is what makes him a dangerous individual.”

Wigmore is an experienced media operative, but his flair for publicity stunts has sometimes backfired. For example, there was, in Banks’ words, a “bit of a shit-storm” after “Wiggy posted a Remembrance Sunday-themed tweet suggesting that voting for Brexit would honour Britain’s war dead”. Richard Tice had apparently not been consulted and was very cross, saying it was a “bit fucking stupid”.

In his book, Arron Banks gives various other tidbits about Wigmore, describing, for instance, the time when “Wiggy” gave him a substance that first made him vomit, and then gave him a sense of “supreme confidence and wellbeing”.

Wigmore’s tendency to boast has, however, helped shed some light on what went on behind the scenes of the Brexit campaign. He told the Observer, for instance, that the shared goals and “longstanding friendship” between Nigel Farage and the Mercer family led Robert Mercer to offer his help – for free – to Leave.EU.

Wigmore also revealed that Mercer introduced Farage and Leave.EU to key player of the Brexit Syndicate Cambridge Analytica, the company that used its own database and voter information collected from Facebook to help elect Donald Trump. Wigmore said: “They were happy to help. Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Mercer introduced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this company we think may be useful to you’. What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information.” Wigmore went on to describe the level of access to people’s personal Facebook data that the campaign was able to use as “creepy”.

Despite this, Leave.EU did not declare any spending on or in-kind support from Cambridge Analytica to the Electoral Commission, or specify any spending on AI or social media “botnets“. Perhaps forgetting this, Wigmore tweeted in August 2017:
“We had our own bots in Bristol and we used AI to target specific groups – it worked because we knew who to hit.” He later attempted to claim that this statement was “sarcasm”.

The Electoral Commission is continuing to investigate Leave.EU’s spending return, after concluding that there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences under the law may have occurred”. It has also reopened its investigation into the “true sources” of donations and loans made to Leave.EU.

Wigmore’s career as a Belizean diplomat hit a bump in the road after the photo with Trump was published. The British Foreign Office and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are said to have been particularly annoyed by Trump’s suggestion that Farage is appointed UK ambassador to Washington. Wigmore was forced to resign his position at the Belize High Commission in London on the grounds that he had contravened the Vienna Convention, which stipulates that foreign diplomats should not interfere in the affairs of their host countries.

He was miffed, but it seems extraordinary that this had not been noticed earlier.

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Liam Fox

🔥Liam Fox MP, aka “the disgraced former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox”, is currently International Trade Minister and one of the leading Brexiters in the Cabinet. Whether he should ever have been allowed to return to front-line politics is another question – one that journalist John Elledge asks in a New Stateman piece that succinctly outlines his previous “mistakes”. In this he writes:

“He allowed his close friend and best man, Adam Werrity, to take up an unofficial and undeclared role in which he attended meetings at the Ministry of Defence without first obtaining security clearance. Werrity had access to Fox’s diary, printed business cards announcing himself as his advisor, and even joined him at meetings with foreign dignitariesAn investigation by then cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell found that Fox had shown a lack of judgement by blurring the lines between his official role and his personal friendships. His report concluded: “The disclosure outside the MoD of details about future visits overseas posed a degree of security risk not only to Dr Fox, but also to the accompanying official party.” Once upon a time a porous boundary between the personal and the professional, especially when it touched on matters of national security, was a breach big enough to end a career.”

Unabashed by the disgrace of his resignation, Fox went on to play a key role in the referendum campaign. Since then, his greatest Brexit hits include being ridiculed, even by No. 10, over his claim that UK businesses “don’t want to export” (a follow-up to his suggestion that they are “fat and lazy“).

Like many of his fellow Brexiters, Fox has frequently called for regulations, taxes and public spending to be cut. However, he has shown no objection to public spending in one area – his own expenses. He featured prominently in the Westminster expenses scandal of 2010, when it emerged that he had claimed more from the public purse than any other shadow minister. Fox had remortgaged his second home to pay for redecoration and claimed the higher interest repayments as expenses. Despite protesting that this represented “value for money”, he was ordered to pay back £22,500.

In January 2018, Fox suggested that post-Brexit Britain could join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that has been heavily criticised for favouring the rights of corporations over those of citizens. Writing in the Guardian, Nick Dearden pulled apart this outlandish vision, noting that:

“TPP would limit dozens of powers which governments use to protect citizens and their environment, and push the balance further in favour of big business. It would extend the monopoly rights of big pharmaceutical corporations, cutting off the citizens of poorer countries from affordable life-saving drugs, while also making it harder for the NHS to negotiate cheaper prices for medicines. It would gut the ability of local government to use taxes to stimulate local farming and the local economy. The 5,000-page deal doesn’t even mention the words “climate change” but would make it harder for governments to introduce environmentally friendly policies.”.

Why would Fox want this? Dearden explains:

“Fox and his hard Brexit friends loathe the EU’s standards and regulations. Many of us already regard these standards as pandering to the interests of the corporations that lobby for them. But for people like Fox, they are far too high. The closer we step towards other trade blocs – the US and Pacific bloc in particular – the further we get from Europe. For Fox, deals such as TPP represent a long-term ambition to fundamentally reorient the UK away from the EU and towards a glorious low-regulation, ‘free market’ future.”

For Fox, it seems that “taking back control” has little to do with the democratic rights of UK citizens but is all about asserting the power of corporations.

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Michael Gove

🔥 Gove was one of the big political hitters of the Leave campaign, whose unexpected betrayal of Prime Minister David Cameron gave the Brexiters an important initial boost. Gove’s Brexit journey started publicly in February 2016, when he wrote that he had been “wrestling with the most difficult decision of my political life” but had decided, on balance, that “the country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU”.

It is more than possible, however, that his mind was made up before this. Gove had previously employed Dominic Cummings as his special adviser – indeed, Cummings has been “credited” for his “schooling revolution”. Described by David Cameron as “a career psychopath”, Cummings would go on to play a central role in the Vote Leave campaign.

Gove’s “schooling revolution” involved £400 million of cuts to funding for existing state schools in order to help pay for a flagship programme of “free schools” (like the one started by Gove’s friend Toby Young). One of Gove’s senior government colleagues at the time described the policy as “nothing short of lunacy” being pushed by an “ideologically obsessed zealot”.

An enthusiastic regulation burner, Gove was part of the government’s so-called Red Tape Initiative, which aims to “grasp the opportunities that Brexit will give us to cut red tape in sensible ways”. In May 2017 it singled out EU Construction Products Regulation (EU 305/2011) as “red tape folly” which is “expensive and burdensome”. The following month, improper use of flammable cladding was a key factor in the deaths of 71 people in the fire at Grenfell Tower, demonstrating the vital importance of strong regulation of construction products and standards.

Since the Brexit referendum, Gove has continued to try to justify the infamous “£350m to the NHS” side-of-a-bus slogan (credited to Cummings) and to rail against experts. “The money is there and it’s for the Government to decide how to spend it once we leave,” he has insisted. Both the UK Statistics Authority and the Institute for Fiscal Studies have pointed out that this is not the case, and even Chancellor Phillip Hammond has accused Gove of “misleading” the public by repeatedly using this figure during the referendum campaign.

Along with Boris Johnson, Gove has also been urging his Cabinet colleagues to seize the opportunity to scrap the Working Time Directive, one of the many EU regulations that protects workers against exploitation by bosses.

As Environment Minister, Gove has been heralding a so-called “Green Brexit”. Sceptics may wonder how long it is before this turns out to be, in the words of his former friend Cameron, so much “green crap“.

Meanwhile, Gove and his Brexit co-conspirator Boris Johnson continue to play leading roles in the ongoing Conservative Party soap opera. They are now, apparently, best buddies again despite Gove having stabbed Johnson “in the front” in a leadership bid that one of his Tory colleagues described as “a spasm of immaturity”.

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Jim Mellon

💰🇷🇺Jim Mellon is a close friend and business associate of Arron Banks, with whom he owns Conister Trust Bank in the Isle of Man. His extensive global property portfolio includes homes in London, Berlin, Austria, Ibiza, Brussels and San Francisco. In 2015, Mellon gave £100,000 to Banks’ Brexit campaign.

With a net worth estimated by the Sunday Times at £920 million, Mellon has described how he made a fortune in the chaotic world of 1990s Russia.

“I had read somewhere that Russia was privatising its industry and that they were handing out certificates that represented a share of the post-Soviet state to every adult,” he has explained.  Mellon bought up large numbers of these certificates at rock-bottom prices from Russians who “did not think they were worth more than a bottle of vodka”. Their loss was Mellon’s gain. Within a few weeks, he was a multi-millionaire.

Mellon co-founded Regent Pacific Group,  a Hong Kong-listed company that quickly earned the nickname “Vulture Fund“, according to the South China Morning Post. The newspaper notes that “soon, people were muttering that Regent’s tactics were unscrupulous . . . dodgy even”. Mellon has also made a very large amount of money from mining investments. In 2005, he and an associate each put $50,000 into UraMin, a shell company that bought up uranium concessions in Africa. In 2007 the company was sold for $2.5 billion.

In 2000, South Korean authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mellon in relation to his alleged involvement in a criminal conspiracy to manipulate the share price of Regent Securities, a subsidiary of Regent Pacific Group. Mellon denied the allegations, but the warrant was renewed several times before automatically expiring in 2010.

In October 2017 Mellon published Juvenescence, a book that claims “life expectancy is going to rise to between 110 and 130 in the next 30 years”. Mellon sees this as a tremendous business opportunity: “With the science now catching up to the aspirations of ‘life-extensionists’, this is truly the biggest money fountain we have ever seen.”

Young people who feel their future has been blighted by Brexit may have mixed feelings about this prospect.

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