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    This July 10, 2016 file photo shows millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks in London.

    'In Russophobic Circles Anyone Who Knows a Russian is Criminal' – Academic

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    Sputnik has interviewed academic and political commentator Rodney Atkinson about the investigation into allegations against British multimillionaire Arron Banks, who is accused of receiving money from the Russian government to bankroll the Leave.EU campaign in the UK's withdrawal from the bloc.

    A key Brexit campaign donor has fallen under scrutiny for his alleged ties to Russia. The Times reported that the UK National Crime Agency launched an investigation after it received emails belonging to co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign — Arron Banks. The correspondence purportedly revealed that the multimillionaire and the Russian ambassador had met privately in London prior to the Brexit vote. Mr. Banks was allegedly offered three Russian business deals, including a gold mine in West Africa and a stake in Russia’s state-owned diamond mining organization Alrosa.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the investigation with Rodney Atkinson, founder of freenations.net website, a British political economist and a former ministerial advisor.

    Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the investigation?

    Rodney Atkinson: I think the whole thing is complete nonsense and of course when it comes to meddling another country's electoral affairs then NATO and the US and Germany are the prime movers in such things as we've seen, with various attempts through people like George Soros and his color revolutions in Eastern Europe, through the White Helmets in Syria and German political foundations active in both Russia and, in particular, Ukraine, and the effect that that had, as we all know. So there's rank hypocrisy in this sort of thing, and secondly, of course, Arron Banks is a businessman, he didn't apparently engage in any business deals with Russia. Even if he had, so what? Every day in Moscow you will see German, French and American businessmen doing deals in Russia despite sanctions. Indeed we know, at least I know from personal contacts, that many of these French and German companies are trying to do deals in Russia behind the backs of the British and they're saying to the Russians "don't do business with the British because they're leaving the European Union."

    READ MORE: Brexit Campaigners 'Did Not Get Money From Russia' or Do Anything 'Sinister'

    Sputnik: Is there actually any illegality that can be associated with somebody having an interest in the leave campaign and also meeting with Russian government or business connections?

    Rodney Atkinson: In the fevered Russophobic circles in Britain and America, which are increasingly small, I think, they think anyone who knows a Russian must be a criminal. It's quite pathetic, especially since, as I said, the political and business establishments, whether they were for or against leaving the EU, all of them had various contacts at different times with Russian businesses, or Russian politicians or Russian journalists as you'd expect in international affairs. And of course, the one that had the most contacts with the most controversial results was Hillary Clinton of the US Democratic Party, who was well received in Russia at one time and also had specific financial links with a Ukrainian oligarch. So every political party in every country has these connections, good or bad, depending on your political point of view, but to call it criminal in any way is just a reflection of the hysteria rather than any objective.

    READ MORE: Major Brexit Donor Reportedly Investigated Due to Alleged Russia Links

    Sputnik: Do you think this is spiraling to a mass interference scenario the likes of the US election interference investigation? I'm just wondering if this could be used to say that 'the Brexit vote is invalid because in fact it was the Russians who manipulated it and so we should have another vote' because there are some problems trying to find a normal Brexit deal and Theresa May's facing a lot of difficulties right now as a politician from her own party and from others as well? Can this be the reason that this is being looked into? Do you think this being used as a reason to justify a second Brexit vote?

    Rodney Atkinson: I think the connection between Russia and second Brexit vote is not very strong. I don't think that one will affect the other. But you're right, it's part of a general propaganda initiative. We have seen, for instance, this week in Britain major European cooperation like Airbus and BMW and Siemens threatening the consequences of Brexit for the British people. In other words, we have big business interfering blatantly in the democratic decisions of the British people. And of course nothing like that ever happened from Russian journalists, or Russian business; there's never been any threat to Britain from Russia. But there're plenty of threats every day from German, French and other European businesses threatening the British people that they should not get their own democratic self-government back because they will be losing business and jobs. Of course that is pretty anti-democratic or not to say fascist approach to what we regard as our democratic right to self-government.

    Sputnik: Tory politician Jacob Rees-Mogg did warn Theresa Mau that unless she sticks to the red lines and talks with the EU then the government actually could collapse. Do you see a real risk of the government collapsing? Theresa May's problems trying to reach a Brexit deal would satisfy all of the members.

    Rodney Atkinson: I don't think the government itself would fall. Who would fall is Mrs. May herself who's proved to be a weak and confused leader at a time when we must be clear and informed and specific in what we want. So she's the one who's in danger, there's no doubt about it. Rees-Mogg speaks for 95% of Conservative Party members, but as we know, the Conservative Party in Parliament is less supportive of him than the party in general. So it all depends if there's a challenge to Mrs. May and then the party members will get a vote and she could be gone and maybe a proper Brexiteer then becomes leader of the Conservative Party. But I don't see why that would necessarily lead to the end of the government.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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