Brexit black money lobby has a new focus – action on climate change
If Brexit has proven anything, it’s that a handful of people with powerful connections can go very, far.
For more than two decades, a constant flow of newspaper articles – and timely political spending – transformed a fringe interest into a British national obsession.
Surely it wouldn’t be possible for British politics to be captured like this again? Well, we might be about to find out.
Officially, the UK government is committed to Net Zero by 2050, but behind the scenes, organized and well-funded opposition to climate change action is growing within the conservative right. And many of those at the forefront – and their tactics – come directly from Brexit veterans.
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A classic example of this appeared in The Telegraph this week: On budget eve, he reported a YouGov poll which found that a majority of the UK population “wants a referendum on Boris Johnson’s net zero plans” by the next general election – a majority of those who expressed a preference, ie.
Even leftovers and young people wanted a public vote on Johnson’s carbon policies. Other points of sale have picked up the story, too much. Self-proclaimed “Brexit Hardman” Steve Baker tweeted its support for a Net Zero referendum.
The Telegraph is easy to poke fun at, with its dyspeptic opinion pages filled with lockdown skeptics and cosplay libertarians. But the jewel of the Barclay family’s media empire matters. There’s a reason Johnson is said to call the Telegraph his “real boss”.
The day after the Telegraph story, Nigel Farage told GB News viewers that a referendum on green taxes “may well be my last campaign”.
A question that no one asked
Maybe that’s because I spent so long watching the black money behind Brexit, but the first thing I thought of when reading the Telegraph story was, ‘Who paid a professional pollster to investigate a question that no one is asking?
The answer is something called Car26.org. The Telegraph informed its readers that this is a “new campaign group calling for a referendum on net zero proposals and a pause in green regulations until such a poll is called.” .
Yes, you read that right. No climate change mitigation policies until a referendum on Net Zero. Seems familiar?
Brexit saw huge sums of money spent through ‘astroturf’ groups: campaigns masquerading as local initiatives with no visible support but a funder with deep pockets behind the scenes. A 20-year-old screenwriter in Manchester spent a fortune on harsh Facebook ads for Brexit.
Ahead of the 2019 general election, ‘third parties’ campaigns spent £ 700,000 pushing Tory talking points forward without declaring any donations.
Car26.org looks like it was pulled straight out of the same playbook. It was only registered at Companies House last month. Its public face and director – Lois Perry – is a representative of Reclaim, the culture war party led by Laurence Fox, the actor and anti-containment, anti-diversity activist and funded by Brexit donor Jeremy Hosking. .
There is more. At the bottom of the Car26 website – after the description of youth involvement in climate protests as ‘borderline child abuse’ – there is a note that the site is ‘powered by Blue Sky’ . Blue Sky Strategy is a small communications company run by a small group of Brexit veterans, including Rebecca Ryan, director of astroturf Finance the BBC campaign and who worked alongside former Vote Leave CTO Thomas Borwick. What a small world.