Brexit Party MEPs vote against motion rejecting Russian interference in European politics

Brexit Party MEPs in the European Parliament. Photograph: European Parliament.

Brexit Party MEPs in the European Parliament. Photograph: European Parliament. - Credit: Archant

Brexit Party MEPs have voted against a European parliament resolution that called for the EU to fight against Russian interference.

The motion called for the EU taskforce aimed at tackling disinformation permanently since 2015 to continue with its mission to "address the threats of external intervention in our European elections".

MEPs claimed that the foreign interference threatened democratic societies in Europe and benefited anti-EU, right-wing extremists and populist forces.

The vote was backed by 469 votes in support, with 143 votes against and 47 abstentions.

One bloc to vote against were the Brexit Party, who claimed that the suggestions of Russian interferences were "baseless propaganda and scare stories used to shut down debate".

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But the EU reported that there had been 998 cases of "highly dangerous nature of Russian propaganda" in Europe compared to 434 cases the year before.

Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox told parliament: "I voted against this motion because what does it say to and about voters? It says you were all duped, you had no agency to decide, you didn't know what you voted for."

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She continued: "Brexit voters didn't vote because of Russian bots or Facebook - but because we believe in sovereignty."

She claimed that the EU were the ones to interfere in elections and referendums, citing examples of votes in Ireland, France, Denmark and the UK.

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Catherine Bearder MEP, leader of the Liberal Democrat MEP, said their failure to back the motion was "shocking".

"Disinformation and electoral interference by state and non-state actors from third countries is a real threat to democracies in Britain and the rest of the European Union. It is frankly shocking that Brexit Party MEPs today refused to support enhanced measures to tackle attacks on our democratic processes from Russia and elsewhere. They wrap themselves in the union flag, but they repeatedly fail to protect our national interest and do what is best for Britain. "

The vote came a day after it was revealed a news website EP Today claiming to be the "monthly news magazine for the European parliament" actually contains mostly content from the RT news outlet, with just 0.14% coming from European lawmakers.

The website says it is "designed only for the MEPs to write articles about issues which they think are currently important and need attention of all their colleagues and other policymakers."

The publication has more than 145,000 Facebook fans and generates 25 news stories a day.

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