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On the claims of #Russia's “unquantifiable” interference with the #Brexit referendum – a short thread following today's @thetimes report 1/
First of all, this is headline-making but inane: OF COURSE #Russia would have done what it could to push Brexit. For a country regarding itself at #politicalwar with the West (rusi.org/event/russian-…) then this is a no-brainer… 2/
It divides the UK and EU, it distracts from other issues (not least tying UK govt in knots for years), it spreads demoralisation. It’s a gift that keeps giving. 3/
(And let’s not be naïve – everyone meddled. When Obama warned UK it would be “back of the line” for trade deals if it voted Leave, he wasn’t just sayin’ – the difference is the methods used to meddle) 4/
But is there any evidence that Russian media stories and online posts MEANINGFULLY AFFECTED the result? That is the crucial issue, and the use of “unquantifiable” to me suggests not. I’d *love* to be able to blame Putin for Brexit, but it doesn’t sound as if we can 5/
My particular concerns are 2. First, that by using Russia as scapegoat we lose sight of WHY so many Brits voted Leave (like IMO the US Democrats have seized the “Putin made Trump president” narrative to forget their own flaws) and fail to address underlying legitimacy issues 6/
Secondly, we become obsessed with Russia/Brexit and the (frankly trivial) IMPACT (NB: is not same as # of posts, even views) of RT, social media posts, etc and lose sight of MORE SERIOUS routes of Russian influence: 7/
Russian MONEY and corrupt connections, I suggest, pose a greater threat to UK than the splashy, visible stuff. (And not just Russian, for that matter). This is not state capture by any means, but state/legislative influence 8/
Were I real conspiracy theorist, I’d even wonder if the ST leak was precisely to distract attention from that to Brexit. But surely that’s just paranoia. Surely? When I'm approaching that kind of rabbit hole, it seems a good place to stop! 9/end
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