Jacob Rees-Mogg

💰🔥Old Etonian financier and Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is sometimes seen as the respectable face of Brexit. Impeccably dressed and ever-ready with a Latin quote, he has been dubbed by some “the MP for the 18th century”. But Rees-Mogg is, in fact, part of a 21st-century scandal involving offshore tax havens and association with Bad Boys such as Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon.

Rees-Mogg is a multi-millionaire: he and his wife are expected to have a combined net worth of up to £150 million when she comes into her inheritance. Their property portfolio includes a Mayfair townhouse, a Grade II-listed manor house in Somerset and interests in various other London properties.

Rees-Mogg’s career in finance started at Rothschild’s. In 2007 he co-founded Somerset Capital Management, which initially operated under the wing of Odey Asset Management, the hedge fund set up by Bad Boy Crispin Odey (Odey also part-funded Rees-Mogg’s election campaign).

Somerset Capital Management is managed via subsidiaries in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore. Rees-Mogg has defended the use of tax havens, saying “I do not believe people have any obligation to pay more tax than the law requires.” But as Rees-Mogg might have quipped himself, crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crevit – the love of wealth grows as the wealth itself grows.

His name was one of those to emerge in the Paradise Papers scandal in late 2017, when leaked documents showed he had held more than 50,000 shares in a company based in the British Virgin Islands, Lloyd George Management, and had made $680,000 (£520,000) when it was bought by Canada’s Bank of Montreal in 2011. Rees-Mogg insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

Perhaps Rees-Mogg sees Brexit as an essential way of avoiding planned new EU regulations aimed at governing the behaviour of companies such as his own. He has also enthused about the potential to slash environmental and safety laws after Britain leaves the EU. Regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for Britain, he has argued, saying that the UK could go “a very long way” to cutting EU standards.

In November 2017, Rees-Mogg met with the extreme right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon. Bannon’s sidekick, the former Ukip leadership candidate Raheem Kassam, said that “the discussions focused on how we move forward with winning for the conservative movements on both sides of the pond, how you build movements, on the ground and digitally.” Kassam also noted that “Brexit and the election of President Trump were inextricably linked.”

In January 2018 Rees-Mogg was elected chair of the Brexit Syndicate key player European Research Group (ERG), an influential backbench group of hard-Brexit Tory MPs. The group made headlines when OpenDemocracy reported that “Senior MPs including Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom and Jacob Rees-Mogg have used their expenses to fund [the ERG]” – which would be in breach of parliamentary rules – and that it was “effectively holding the government hostage over its negotiations with the EU”.

Rees-Mogg has assured the ERG he will “help Theresa May carry out the type of Brexit she originally promised”.  He seems to have been referring to May’s speech in July 2016 in which she made the famously meaningless pronouncement: “Brexit means Brexit.” In the same speech, May also said: “Because Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it […] we need a bold new positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but for every one of us.”

It would be hard to find a group that better exemplifies “the privileged few” than Jacob Rees-Mogg and his fellow Brexit Money Men.

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Boris Johnson

🔥🇷🇺 As a former Mayor of London, prolific journalist and now Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson is one of the highest-profile Brexit cheerleaders.

Yet just a few weeks before coming out as a Brexiter in 2016, Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column that “leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty, while embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country—low skills, low social mobility, low investment, etc—that have nothing to do with Europe”.

Many view Johnson’s jumping aboard the Brexit bandwagon as an act not of principle but of naked political opportunism. Johnson’s path to becoming the Vote Leave poster boy was far from straightforward. Johnson, the son of an MEP himself, went to school in Brussels and was based there for years as the Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent. Many see Johnson as having a certain affinity with the EU and, according to The Guardian, Johnson himself once declared that:

“I’m rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women.”

This didn’t stop him, however, building up a significant record of spreading EU myths (including the infamous myth that the EU wanted to ban prawn cocktail crisps).

As a determined regulation burner, Johnson has frequently made lurid claims about how “EU bureaucracy has gone mad”. In 2016, he trotted out some of these well-worn myths to a Treasury Select Committee looking into the costs and benefits of Britain’s membership of the EU, prompting its chair to interrupt him with the words: “This is all very interesting, Boris. Except none of it is really true, is it?”

He is one of few politicians who still stands by the infamous Brexit bus slogan, insisting that “Britain will still claw back £350m a week after leaving the EU, with much of that money preferably being spent on the NHS.” The absurdity of this figure has been pointed out by the UK Statistics Authority and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and even Brexit Secretary David Davis and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage have now distanced themselves from it.

On Russian involvement in Brexit, Johnson claimed that he hadn’t “seen a sausage” of evidence to suggest that this occured. As journalist Carole Cadwalladr put it, he “cannot have been looking very hard“.

We know that in November 2017 Johnson was one of three ministers targeted by people linked to the FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Moscow. An email from the “London professor” (subsequently identified as Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud) who was named in FBI indictments and who has high-level connections to the Russian state, said he would be “meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit”. Later, photos emerged of Johnson and Mifsud at dinner. As former Labour Cabinet Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “It’s inconceivable that the FBI didn’t tell their UK counterparts about Mifsud … so how was this allowed to happen?”

Less than a month after saying he had seen no sign of Russian meddling in British politics, in December 2017 Johnson told a Moscow press conference that there was in fact “abundant evidence” and that he would “not stand for it” – though he also asserted that attempts to influence the referendum result “had fallen flat”. To have admitted otherwise would have been somewhat embarrassing for a man who had thrown in his lot with the Bad Boys of Brexit.

Is it possible this Minister doth protest too much?

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Nigel Lawson

🔥Nigel Lawson currently lives in France and was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher. He is now a member of the Lords and is also a high-profile climate change denier; a proponent of neo-liberal economics and a long-standing supporter of Brexit who once called the EU “something of a bureaucratic monstrosity with a contempt for democracy“.

Described by Will Hutton as “an insidious, if wizened, scorpion, as indiscriminately dangerous to his own side as to his ideological opponents”, Lawson can be regarded as a grandfather figure to the Bad Boys of Brexit. He was doing fake news when most people still just called it lying.

Lawson has argued that Brexit “gives us a chance to finish the Thatcher revolution” by scrapping much of the “vast corpus” of EU regulation, not least regulation governing banking and the financial sector. Others have pointed out that Lawson’s deregulation of UK banking in the 1980s helped pave the way for the abuses that led to the financial crisis of 2007. He has recently railed against the civil service for “frustrating” the Brexit process.

Lawson’s book An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming has been scientifically refuted and was described in the journal Nature by Sir John Houghton – Honorary Scientist at the Met and co-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – as “neither cool nor rational”. Climate scientists have called Lawson’s rhetoric on climate change ignorant and dangerous and in August 2017 the BBC was forced to apologise after they interviewed him and left unchallenged his false claim that global temperatures are falling rather than rising.

Lawson remains one of the few high-profile voices insisting that dropping out of the EU with no deal would “not be a bad thing“, has been critical of Theresa May for not keeping her nerve and has called for a leading member of the Cabinet to be sacked for what he sees as their “Brexit sabotage“.

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George Cottrell

George Cotterell

💰🇷🇺 George Cottrell co-directed Brexit fundraising for Ukip and managed Nigel Farage’s office in the run-up to the referendum. He is also a convicted fraudster.

In his book about the Brexit campaign, Arron Banks refers to Cottrell, the nephew of Lord Hesketh – a former Tory minister who defected to Ukip – as “Posh George“, saying he is “posh to the point of caricature and wilfully abrasive, but extremely generous when it comes to picking up the bar tab”.

Previously, Cottrell had worked in banking, specialising in “offshore investment” and boasting about his expertise in money laundering. According to former Ukip candidate William Cash, it was Cottrell’s knowledge of “the murky and complicated world of shadow banking, secret offshore accounts and sophisticated financial structures” that landed him his role at Ukip.

A LinkedIn profile under his name shows him to have multiple connections with Russian entities involved in money laundering. It also shows him to have worked as a “consultant” in a private “intelligence agency” (thought by some to be Precision Risk & Intelligence Ltd, a company set up by Arron Banks).

In December 2016 Cottrell was convicted in the US of a scam that involved laundering drug money on the dark web, having been arrested in Chicago earlier in the year as he travelled back with Farage after a trip to support Donald Trump’s candidacy at the Republican National Convention. He served eight months in jail, after a plea agreement that reduced his sentence from a possible maximum of 20 years.

There has been considerable speculation about what Cottrell may have revealed to the FBI as part of his plea bargain, and whether this may have included information about the origin of money that flowed into the Brexit campaign.

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Alexander Nix

💰Alexander Nix is director of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, two closely linked companies that specialise in using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data for political purposes.

Cambridge Analytica, a key player in the Brexit Syndicate, played a major role in the Brexit campaign, though both Nix and Brexit campaigners have since attempted play this down. Until November 2017 it was part-owned by the hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Far-right ideologue Steve Bannon was also a part-owner and board member of Cambridge Analytica.

In February 2016 Nix wrote a piece for Campaign magazine in which he boasted that: “We [Cambridge Analytica] have already helped supercharge Leave.EU’s social media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online.” Despite this, he later claimed that “we didn’t work for any of the campaigns that were involved in Brexit”.

Educated at Eton, Nix began his career with Baring Securities before joining Robert Fraser & Partners LLP, a corporate finance and tax advisory firm. In 2003 he joined the SCL Group and since 2007 he has focused on growing its elections division, SCL Elections, working on more than 40 political campaigns around the world, from South Africa to Indonesia.

SCL describes itself as a “behaviour change agency”, using psychological techniques derived from military psyops to influence people. Nix has helped it put these techniques to work for governments and “global militaries all over the world”, as well as for commercial corporations. As he has put it: “The clients we were interested in servicing were not necessarily vendors of products like Mars Bars.”

Between 2005 and 2015, SCL’s largest shareholder was the property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz. In 2011, Tchenguiz and his brother Robert were arrested by the Serious Fraud Office as part of its investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Tchenguiz also has business connections with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who in turn is closely linked to both Vladimir Putin and Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort. Tchenguiz is on record stating that the break-up of the European Union will bring “huge [business] opportunities”.

In 2009 the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines accused the country’s opposition of using the services of SCL Elections to run the “Vote No Campaign” for a referendum on constitutional change. He alleged the campaign was funded by groups who wish to maintain the practice of “economic citizenship”, or as he described it “selling passports” to enable wealthy foreigners to use his country as a tax haven.

Nix is also thought to have operated under the alias “Alexander Ashburner”, the name under which he was listed as Director of Strategy of the secretive Athena Trust.

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Matt Ridley

💰🔥Matt Ridley is a discredited former banker, journalist, and climate change denier. His was one of the most prominent voices promoting Brexit, not least in columns in the  Murdoch-owned Times and Sun, stalwarts of the Brexit Syndicate. Associated with the Vote Leave end of the campaign, he also appeared on platforms with the pro-Brexit Business for Britain group.

Like Owen Paterson and many other leading Leave campaigners, Ridley is a vociferous opponent of action on climate change and a keen advocate of the continued use of fossil fuels. He has frequently tried to cast doubt on the science of global warming. He is on the “Academic Advisory Council” of Nigel Lawson’s climate “sceptic” Global Warming Policy Foundation, a policy adviser for Owen Paterson’s UK2020 thinktank (both based at 55 Tufton Street, also the original HQ of Vote Leave before it moved to larger premises), and has used his seat in the House of Lords to oppose the development of renewable wind energy.

By chance, Ridley also enjoys a substantial income from two open-cast coal mines on his large estate in Northumbria, which are owned by his family trust – together these are estimated to contain coal worth £336 million.

Ridley is a big supporter of fracking. In 2014 he was found to have breached the Lords’ Code of Conduct after he neglected to mention during a debate on the energy bill that he has a personal interest in Weir Group, which makes fracking equipment.

Despite being frequently criticised by climate scientists for his misleading writing on climate change, Ridley casts himself as an expert on science (he has a PhD in the mating habits of pheasants – yes, really). He has claimed that “red tape” is stifling science in the EU, giving as one example the EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides known to be harmful to bees.

In April 2016 he surprised many scientists by informing them in his Times column that “British scientists would be better off out of the EU”. All the evidence suggests that on this – as on much else – British scientists beg to differ with Ridley.

Ridley’s other main claim to fame stems from his chairmanship of Northern Rock, the bank that played an infamous role in the 2007 financial crisis. Members of the Treasury Select Committee that looked into these events criticised him, along with the bank’s CEO, for “damaging the good name of British banking”.

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Matthew Elliott

🔥 💰🇷🇺Elliott was chief executive of Vote Leave, the “official” Leave Campaign, and is also the co-founder of the right-wing TaxPayers’ Alliance. He was campaign director for the NOtoAV campaign in 2011, which successfully derailed attempts to introduce a fairer voting system for UK elections.

As Conservative governments imposed austerity measures that have severely cut public services, Elliott and the TaxPayers’ Alliance have continually pushed for tax cuts – a common theme among leading Brexiters. He has been described by the BBC as “one of the most effective lobbyists at Westminster”.

Elliott is also a senior fellow of Brexit Syndicate member Legatum Institute – the think-tank funded by the secretive Dubai-based hedge-fund billionaire Christopher Chandler. Legatum has been highly influential among Brexiters, particularly in the Conservative Party, and is believed to have been involved in drafting a letter to Theresa May from Boris Johnson and Michael Gove that urged May to push for a “hard” Brexit. It has been seen as promoting the sort of “disaster capitalism” through which Chandler made a very large amount of money in Russia in the 1990s.

Elliott was a central member of Conservative Friends of Russia and in 2012 went on a 10-day trip to Moscow with the group, paid for by the Russian government. Conservative Friends of Russia is reported to have been used by Russia as a means to influence Conservative politicians, and its key contact at the Russian Embassy in London was Sergey Nalobin, later expelled from Britain as a suspected spy. Nalobin is known to have established a personal relationship with Elliott and was the first to congratulate him on Twitter when Elliott announced his engagement in January 2014.

Elliott has often claimed to be acting in the best interests of poor people, for instance when lobbying against the “green” taxes that help combat climate change. He has written: “Green taxes are revenue-raising measures designed to extract more money from ordinary families and British businesses.”

Elliott has also spoken at events organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas, used by fracking and fossil fuel companies to gain access to MPs and influence government policy.

In 2017 the Charity Commission said it had uncovered matters of “regulatory concern” at the Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT), set up by Elliott in 2006. Elliot was asked to repay a £50,000 charitable grant after he was found to have used it to produce an anti-EU dossier that was not in keeping with the charity’s declared educational aims.

An earlier Charity Commission enquiry in 2011 had warned PERT that its reputation risked being damaged if it did not properly manage its relationship with another of Elliott’s campaign groups, the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

In November 2017, the Electoral Commission reopened its investigation into Vote Leave’s payments of £625,000 to 23-year-old fashion student Darren Grimes, who had gone on to spend large sums with social media marketing firm Aggregate IQ (closely linked to Cambridge Analytica). Concerns had been raised that this donation may have been used to breach Vote Leave’s limit on referendum spending.

Matthew Elliott’s ’American wife Sarah Smith is the chair of Republicans Overseas, and makes frequent appearances in the UK media to explain how she has ‘learned to love Trump”.

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Dominic Cummings

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🔥 Cummings was the Director of Campaigns for the Vote Leave campaign who told the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee that “accuracy is for snake-oil pussies” when asked about Vote Leave’s figures. One such “inaccuracy” would be the infamous ‘£350m to the NHS’ side-of-a-bus slogan, credited to Cummings.

Another would be Cummings’ claim that scrapping EU regulations would save “£33.3 billion a year”. Under questioning by the Select Committee, he was forced to admit that this figure had no firm basis in fact.

Since the referendum, Cummings has been none too satisfied with the progress of Brexit and is reported to have described Brexit Secretary David Davis as “thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus“.

He has even publicly expressed doubts about Brexit itself, saying that “schoolchildren will shake their heads in disbelief that such characters could have had leading roles in government”, and that there will be an “inevitable inquiry” into why Brexit occurred. He does not, however, seem to have any misgivings about his own role in the disaster.

Cummings has a long history of colourful insults. David Cameron once called him “a career psychopath” after Cummings had described Cameron as “bumbling”, the former No. 10 chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, as “a sycophant presiding over a shambolic court”, and the director of communications, Craig Oliver, as “clueless”.

Earlier in his career, Cummings worked as a special adviser to Michael Gove when Gove was Education Secretary. He was widely disliked within the Department of Education, where he was seen as creating an “us-and-them, aggressive, intimidating culture”. According to a profile on Conservative Home in 2014, Cummings rose to prominence for mounting a vicious assault on Nick Clegg, whom he accused of being “self-obsessed”, “dishonest” and “a revolting character”.

For his part, Clegg has said that Cummings obviously had “serious anger-management issues”. As he observed: “You get this in politics from time to time. You get people who are not elected to any office, backroom people who start developing slight delusions of grandeur.”

In this case, many might feel: “I agree with Nick.”

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Crispin Odey

Crispin Odey

💰Odey is a London-based hedge fund manager who has played a major role in funding the Brexit campaign. After the referendum, it was reported that Odey was one of the five major donors who had contributed £14.9m out of the total £24.1m in donations and loans given to the Leave campaigns in the five months leading up to the referendum. Since then, it seems that Odey has enjoyed special access to Brexit ministers – helped, Labour has suggested, by his generous donations to the Conservative Party.

On hearing about the referendum result, Odey said: “I feel fantastic. It’s a fantastic decision by the electorate.” Odey had a special reason to feel “fantastic”. He’d bet on Brexit hitting the pound by “shorting” sterling and moving 65% of his fund into gold in anticipation. Odey’s fund made £220 million in the space of a few hours. As he said at the time: “I think I may be the winner.”

It has been claimed that several of Nigel Farage‘s supporters also made tidy sums by shorting the pound and UK stocks, and were helped to do so by Farage’s surprising statement early on the night of the referendum that it  “looks like Remain will edge it”.

According to Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman, Farage had already been told of the results of a large private exit poll commissioned by “10 different financial institutions and hedge funds that wanted the best information money could buy in order to construct their trading positions” – and this poll had indicated a win for Leave. It is not known whether Odey’s was among the funds that commissioned the poll.

Odey has voiced objection to tighter EU regulation of hedge funds and has claimed that new EU banking rules will contribute to a “terrifying” environment for investors.

Despite his financial support for Brexit, Odey controversially warned his clients just a few months later to prepare for a recession and higher inflation in wake of the shock Leave vote. He continues to draw attention from financial commentators for his ongoing “doubts about the pound and UK assets” post-Brexit.

The Sunday Times estimated the joint wealth of Odey and his current wife, Nichola Pease, at around £1.1bn as of April 2015.

Odey was previously married to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Prudence.

Somerset Capital Management, the investment firm set up by Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2007, initially operated under the wing of Odey’s hedge fund, Odey Asset Management. Odey has since funded Rees-Mogg’s election campaign.

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Peter Hargreaves

Peter Hargreaves

💰🔥Hargreaves donated £3.2 million from his personal money to the Leave.EU campaign. The finance industry billionaire raised eyebrows during the referendum campaign by claiming that [Brexit-related] “insecurity is fantastic”, saying “it will be like Dunkirk again”. He also compared the future of Britain outside the EU to that of low-tax and low-regulation Singapore, saying: “It was a mosquito-infested swamp with no natural resources…All they had were people with brains and hands and they turned it into the greatest economy in the world. I believe that will happen to us, too.”

Hargreaves co-founded the investment company Hargreaves Lansdown and is worth around £2 billion after floating it on the stock exchange. He has since retired from the company, which controls, according to Forbes, $70 billion in assets under management. He still owns a 30% stake in Hargreaves Lansdown and recently invested £25m into a new investment entity called CF Blue Whale Growth, looking to invest mainly in US markets.

Like many other ultra-rich Brexiters, Hargreaves is keen to cut back public services as he sees these as too expensive: “The public sector has got to be cut” he has insisted. “The country’s overheads are simply too big.”

In September 2017 Hargreaves expressed some misgivings over the nature of the Leave campaign, admitting that it may have told “porky pies” and was possibly a “little bit racist”.

“Porky pies” and “a little bit” of racism are evidently a price worth paying for some of the ultra-rich pushing for Brexit.

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