Damian Collins, the Tory MP investigating far-fetched claims that Vladimir Putin swung the Brexit vote, is a hardline Remainer and admirer of George Soros, who spread state-manufactured ‘fake news’ during the EU referendum.
One of the ‘conservatives’ brought into Parliament through former prime minister David Cameron’s so-called ‘A-list’ of liberal candidates, Collins has been scrabbling for evidence of Russian interference as head of the Digital, Culture Media, and Sport Committee, most recently by flying it out to Washington D.C. and New York.
The trip is thought to have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds — and was made despite the tech firms the committee heard evidence from offering to come to London instead — and proved to be an embarrassing failure, turning up almost no evidence of nefarious activities by ‘The Russians’.
Just forty-nine Twitter accounts linked to an allegedly Kremlin-backed ‘troll factory’ were unearthed, representing “less than 0.005% of the total number of accounts that tweeted about the referendum”, and producing a grand total of 942 tweets — or “less than 0.02% of the total tweets posted about the referendum during the campaign.”
YouTube, meanwhile, told the anguished Collins that it had “conducted a thorough investigation around the Brexit referendum and found no evidence of Russian interference” at all.
CONFIRMED: Russian trolls spent a MASSIVE seventy-three pence on Facebook ads about immigration during the Brexit referendum, seen by a WHOPPING two-hundred people! #SecondReferendumNow https://t.co/xfQ7r9L0hi
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) December 13, 2017
Collins had already been coping poorly with mounting evidence that the British public did not vote for Brexit because they were tricked by the Kremlin, but because they freely chose to reject the instructions of the political establishment.
For example, when previous investigations revealed that ‘Russian interference’ on Facebook consisted of one group spending less than a dollar on a few anti-immigration ads seen by around 200 people, he appeared unable to process the information, implying that social media companies were somehow hiding evidence from him and threatening them with sanctions.
It is already impossible for him to back away the Russian conspiracy theory with any grace, however, having already declared that there is no doubt about “the systematic way that Russia is using information as a tool of war”.
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 28, 2017
During the referendum, Collins served as a cheerleader for George Osborne in his role as Project Fear’s Scaremonger-General, regurgitating claims from now-debunked Treasury reports that a vote to Leave the European Union would deliver an “immediate and profound shock” to the British economy, pushing it into recession and throwing between 500,000 and 800,000 people out of work.
Collins also encouraged voters to listen to the wider global establishment, tweeting: “When the IMF, IFS, Treasury, BoE, LSE, CBI, G7 and OECD all say the same thing it’s not a conspiracy. It’s a consensus. UK is #StrongerIN.”
(In fact, all of these economics forecasts for the immediate impact of a Brexit vote and the performance of the British economy more generally proved badly wrong.)
ONS trims pre-ref growth, increases post-ref.
Q1: 0.3% (0.4)
Q2: 0.6%, (0.7)
Q3: 0.6% (0.5)
Treasury "project fear' f/casts now a shambles.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) December 23, 2016
The MP went so far as to produce a widely unviewed series YouTube advancing various stock Remain campaign talking points of dubious accuracy.
He even promoted a threatening opinion piece by convicted insider trader George Soros, warning of a “Brexit crash” which would “make all of you poorer”, and praised the billionaire as a “veteran of the markets”.
Soros, recently unmasked as the chief backer of a plot to bring down the British government and trigger another referendum, would know a thing or two about making the British people poorer, having become infamous as ‘The Man Who Broke the Bank of England’ in the 1990s.
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) June 21, 2016
Other interventions by Collins in the referendum included a claim that the Prime Minister of Spain had “said UK citizens would lose their right to live and work in Spain if we voted for #Brexit” — implausibly suggesting mass expulsions of the sort which took place in the Soviet Socialist Republics, and in places like the former East Prussia and the Sudetenland after the Second World War.
He also repeatedly suggested that it would be impossible to end Britain’s involvement in the Free Movement migration regime without “wrecking our economy” — suggesting he shares Soros’s views on the necessity of open borders.
It is difficult to see how such a hyper-partisan actor could be expected to conduct any investigation into Russian influence on the referendum in an even-handed matter — yet he has given no indication that he intends to end his fruitless, taxpayer-funded search.