Russia is drawing the EU closer together rather than tearing it apart
- Credit: Tass/PA Images
Russia has attempted to tear apart the European Union, but instead it has brought it closer together.
Russian interference in the Brexit referendum ('The Russia Report and what it doesn't tell us', TNE #204) was driven, apparently, by its desire to weaken the European Union. I think recent events actually suggest the meddling has strengthened the EU .
Negotiations over the EU budget and post-Covid rescue plan have now concluded with an agreement. Arguably, as a result, the EU is now more cohesive and integrated than before.
Imagine how these negotiations would have gone if Britain was still in the EU and had been involved. Shouts of 'no, no, no' and 'there is not enough in it for us' would have rung around the Berlaymont and negotiations would have been more fractious and destructive. Increasingly Britain had become the squeaky wheel on the EU project. So possibly our departure is a silver lining for the EU. For the people of Britain, not so much.
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Whilst Vladimir Putin's Russia is clearly a malignant actor on the world stage, sowing division and hate in order to reap the rewards of dividing the West, he is not, thank heavens, all-powerful, neither is he a perfect strategist.
If Johnson's Britain had been in the room during the EU's Covid recovery fund negotiations, I for one am sure they would have ended in failure. But no doubt to the dismay of the Kremlin, not to mention British Brexiteers, the talks ended in a deal, albeit a messy one.
One step to a stronger Europe, and thus a stronger bulwark against the hatred and division peddled by Putin
To me what the Russia Report has highlighted most of all is that pro-Brexiteer politicians do not care how they achieve their aim of leaving the European Union.
They choose to pretend to be asleep at the wheel while the population is bombarded with disinformation and politicians are happy taking money from oligarchs for lunches or tennis matches.
They are trying to spin it that there was no evidence of Russian interference, when, really, they took their eyes off the ball.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has written to the prime minister requesting an investigation into meddling in the Brexit referendum and we must ensure this happens. Let's not take our eyes off the ball.
Johnson, Banks, Bridgen, Rees-Mogg et al have got it completely wrong, as usual. As a pro-EU British patriot, I did not hope for a smoking gun in the Russia Report because I knew even last November that if there was one, it would have been decommissioned and the serial number filed off. Or, as it turns out, not looked for in the first place in case it turned out to be an arsenal of Kalashnikovs.
A substantial number of Conservative MPs must be happy that social distancing requirements keep them out of the Commons chamber, especially on Wednesdays. The last PMQs saw their leader and our prime minister giving a performance that beggared belief in his response to Keir Starmer's questions about the Russia Report.
Faced with having to explain the delay in releasing the aforementioned report, Boris Johnson resorted to his customary bluster, appealing with outstretched arms to his backbenchers, in the process repeatedly turning his back on the speaker (to the latter's irritation) and making laboured attempts at jokes.
The enforced absence of these MPs allowed them to squirm in embarrassment in the privacy of their homes and offices instead of suffering the humiliation of witnessing the debacle in the chamber.
Cringe-making though Johnson's desperately inept performance may have been, the real cause for alarm is that this duplicitous charlatan, not content with trying to conceal the extent of Russian interference, seems only too willing to inflict incalculable damage to our already vulnerable economy by engineering a no-deal Brexit.
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