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The Five Questions Nigel Farage is Never Asked About Brexit, Trump and Russia

As the media provides the Reform Leader with a prominent platform once more during this general election campaign, Peter Jukes considers all the concerning lines of enquiry that journalists never confront him with

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With his insurgent role leading the Reform Party in the current General Election campaign, its suddenly reinstated figurehead, Nigel Farage, is receiving even more publicity and air time. 

There are some journalists who are using the occasion to finally submit the former MEP and Leader of UKIP to some more intense questioning about his policies and his track record of success – with the UK’s hard Brexit one of the most disastrous. 

But though Farage has been forced to justify his past praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are much deeper questions beyond ideological support that he has to answer about his Kremlin connections, especially given the current war in Ukraine. 

Question One: Why Did Farage Lie About Meeting the Russian Ambassador?

    We now know that the former Russian Ambassador to London, Alexander Yakovenko, was part of a strategic plan to disrupt Western Alliances in the run-up to the invasion of eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

    In the UK, Yakovenko tasked two spies to target Eurosceptics and Conservatives. Sergei Nalobin infiltrated the Conservative Party with his Conservative Friends of Russia organisation, launched in the Russian Embassy in 2012. Another official, Alexander Udod, targeted UKIP and was introduced to Farage’s confidant Andy Wigmore at its Doncaster convention in 2015. (For more on what happened with Wigmore, see question two).

    Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko meeting Nigel Farage in May 2013. Photo: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    During this time, Farage regularly appeared on the state-controlled TV service, RT (Russia Today), which apparently paid him for his services and boosted every speech he made as an MEP in the European Parliament. It also offered him his own TV show following the EU Referendum.

    Given these connections, why did Farage protest in June 2018 that “I’ve never met the Russian Ambassador”? 

    The Russian embassy website hosted a picture of Yakovenko greeting Farage in May 2013 – the moment that Russian policy pivoted over to its plan to disrupt the EU, before invading Ukraine. 

    In 2019, Yakovenko was recalled to Moscow, awarded the prestigious Alexander Nevsky medal by Putin, and appointed head of the diplomatic school. At a celebration dinner, Yakovenko is reported by a foreign diplomat present to have said: “We have crushed the British to the ground. They are on their knees, and they will not rise for a very long time.”

    What is it about meeting the Russian Ambassador that caused Farage to lie?

    Two: How Could Farage Not Have Known About Arron Banks’ Multiple Visits to the Russian Embassy During the Brexit Campaign? 

      Once the EU Referendum was announced by David Cameron in 2015, severing the UK from the European Union became a key strategic goal of Russian foreign policy. Ukraine had ousted its Kremlin-backed President, Viktor Yanukovych, in the Maidan ‘Glorious Revolution’ the year before over this issue of EU membership, and Putin saw himself at war with the West. 

      As a former KGB agent, he deployed an array of covert ‘alternative measures’ beyond the military interventions in Crimea and the Donbas. 

      Ten days after meeting Andy Wigmore at the Doncaster conference in late September 2015, Alexander Udod invited UKIP’s biggest backer, Arron Banks, to meet the Russian Ambassador at his London residence. Udod was later expelled along with 23 other Russian officials after the Skripal poisonings.

      Alexander Udod at a UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies event in 2015. He was expelled in 2018 after the Novichok attack on Salisbury

      Though Banks later admitted to “one boozy lunch” in Isabel Oakeshott’s book The Bad Boys of Brexit, this first meeting in November was followed by many more in which deals involving the privatisation of Russian gold and diamond state companies were discussed.

      Thanks to emails obtained by Carole Cadwalladr and me, we know now that there were many such meetings throughout 2016. As Mrs Justice Steyn wrote in her judgment on the Banks v Cadwalladr case in June 2022: 

      The four meetings on 6 November 2015, 17 November 2015, 19 August 2016 and 18 November 2016 were probably not the full extent of Mr Banks’s meetings with Russian officials. This could be surmised from the following: (a) on 24 November 2015 Mr Wigmore was seeking to set up a meeting involving himself, Mr Banks and Mr Udod; (b) on 18 January 2016 Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore were intending to have a discussion with Sberbank about the Russian Gold Consolidation Play (a bank Mr Wigmore was said to know well); (c) on 19 January 2016 Mr Banks intended “to pop in and see the ambassador as well”, terminology which is suggestive of a relationship in which he could visit the Russian ambassador with ease; (d) Mr Umbers appears to have understood on 2 February 2016 that Mr Banks hoped or intended to see the Russian ambassador that day; (e) although it is unclear whether he did so, particularly having regard to the geolocation data (see paragraph 317 above), in December 2015 and again in February 2016 emails suggest that Mr Banks intended to visit Moscow in relation to the Russian Gold Consolidation Play, Mr Wigmore informed two journalists on 10 February 2016 that Mr Banks was in Russia, and the reason he gave to the DCMS Committee for having done so was not credible; (f) on 18 March 2016 Mr Wigmore had confirmed that he and Mr Banks would both like to attend a private concert at the Russian ambassador’s residence to which they had been invited; (g) on 5 August 2016 Mr Fedichkin referred to the fact that Mr Wigmore had certainly met Mr Udod on “several occasions”; and (h) Mr Banks did not answer Ms Cadwalladr’s questions as to how many meetings there had been.

      Not only was Arron Banks the major backer of Farage’s Leave.EU campaign – becoming one of the biggest single donors in British history at the time with £8 million in finances – he was also funding Farage directly for the following year, providing a £4.4 million rented home, a luxury car, a bodyguard, a private office, and trips to the United States. 

      Is it really credible that Farage knew nothing of Banks’ multiple interactions with Kremlin officials in 2016? 

      Three: What Did Farage Know of the Russian Hacking of the Clinton Campaign?

      In spring 2016, according to FBI indictments, 12 Russian GRU officials used spear phishing techniques to hack the emails of John Podesta, chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and subsequently exfiltrate material from both the Democratic National Committee and its Congressional Campaign Committee, which they begin to leak online. 

      At the same time, a Trump foreign policy aide, George Papadopolous, was approached by Professor Joseph Mifsud who told him the Russian Ambassador (both pictured below)  could provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”. Soon after, Julian Assange told ITV’s Robert Peston WikiLeaks also had emails “pending publication”  and Russian intelligence created a Twitter account, Guccifer 2.0, to spread the hacks.

      Maltese Professor Joseph Mifsud meeting Ambassador Yakovenko in 2014. Mifsud told a Trump official he was in contact with Yakovenko and could provide access to hacked emails.

      Apart from Donald Trump, who openly called for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, his long-time aide Roger Stone actively reached out to Guccifer 2.0 for more information and, according to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Stone called the presidential hopeful. 

      “Mr Stone told Mr Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange,” Cohen wrote in his congressional testimony, “and that Mr Assange told Mr Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

      A few days later, the Republican National Convention took place in Cleveland, Ohio, and Farage attended as an observer

      Sometime between 18-21 July, as reported by Observer journalist Cadwalladr, Farage had a secret dinner with Roger Stone and the Infowars host Alex Jones. Soon Stone was telling a Florida Republican group. that he had been in touch with Assange and warned that there would be a WikiLeaks “October surprise” about “the Clinton Foundation”. A few days later he tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

      A federal indictment against Stone records: “On or about October 3, 2016, Stone wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, ‘spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.’” 

      Stone was found guilty of obstructing a federal investigation and five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. But he was pardoned by Trump during his last days in office.

      Farage snapped leaving the Ecuadorean Embassy 9 March 2017. Photo: Buzzfeed/ITV 

      Though Farage had denied being an intermediary between Assange, Russia, and the Trump campaign, he was spotted coming out of a meeting with Assange in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy the following year for reasons he immediately “couldn’t remember”

      Meanwhile, Stone’s “friend in London” has never been identified and no journalist has asked Farage whether he knew about this plot by Russia to subvert the 2016 US Presidential Election.

      What did Farage know about the hacking of Clinton Campaign emails during the 2016 Presidential Election, and why didn’t he warn the authorities about it?

      Question Four: How Could Farage be Blind to Trump and Steve Bannon’s Backing for Russia? 

        Like Roger Stone, the former Trump campaign manager and Cambridge Analytica co-founder Steve Bannon has been pardoned by Trump for his fraudulent ‘Build the Wall’ scheme, but still faces four months of imminent jail time for contempt of Congress over its investigation into the 6 January  2021 Capitol insurrection. 

        Despite this, the far-right ideologue is calling for people to take up arms and “fight to the death” to get Trump re-elected. 

        Bannon has been a long-time friend and ally of Farage’s since they met in 2011, with Bannon encouraging him to form a ‘Tea Party’-style British populist right-wing movement. 

        Speculative mock up on social media of Farage’s gift to Steve Bannon

        Farage was so impressed with Bannon he sent him a portrait of his new friend as Napoleon. More importantly, as Farage confessed in a now-deleted video after the shock EU Referendum leave vote: “Well done, Bannon. Well done, Breitbart. You helped with this. Hugely.” As Farage’s friend and ally, it is no surprise that – as Jane Mayer detailed in the New Yorker magazine – Bannon used his big data electioneering company Cambridge Analytica to influence the Brexit vote. 

        Bannon described his combination of Cambridge Analytica targeting and Breitbart publications as his “weapons”. At the same time, another tool of information warfare was being set up by the now-deceased oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin. In 2013 Prigozhin set up his Internet Research Agency –  backed by Russian military intelligence. In the two years during and following the Trump and Brexit votes the St Petersburg-based ‘troll farm’ spent $35 million targeting American and British voters. US electoral data from Cambridge Analytica was handed over to an alleged agent of the GRU before the 2016 Presidential Election.  

        Farage was constantly tripping across the Atlantic in 2016 to help Trump – who described himself as “Mr Brexit Plus Plus Plus”. Banks, of Leave.EU, joined Farage on the campaign trail in 2016, and both he and Wigmore celebrated his victory in the famous Trump Tower golden lift. 

        Later, Wigmore told Carole Cadwalladr that “Brexit was a petri dish for Trump”. 

        Farage and Bannon spoke openly about building an international “nationalist populism” alliance with authoritarians such as Viktor Orbán and right-wing European parties which received Kremlin funding. 

        How can Farage not know about Bannon and Trump’s Russian connections? As the UK’s snap General Election was called in late May, Farage initially said that he would not be standing as a candidate for the Reform Party because he was off to the US to support Trump – who has failed to criticise Putin and whose Republican supporters have tried to block arms to Ukraine following its 2022 invasion. 

        How can Farage be unaware of Bannon and Trump’s support for Putin? 

        Question Five: Why Did Farage Hide the Assessment that his Leave.EU Campaign Funder was an “Agent of Russian Influence?”

          To a certain extent, Farage can claim ignorance of some of these matters as they happened, but they appear to be examples of negligence or wilful blindness at the time. 

          By late 2017, as US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had alighted on London and Ambassador Yakovenko as a key figure in the hacking of Clinton’s election campaign, Putin’s interference in US and UK domestic politics was unmissable. 

          It was as the indictment landed in November 2017 that Isabel Oakeshott was alerted (via Richard Tice) by then Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, about FBI investigations into Russian interference and allegations that Banks was “up to his neck in it”. Oakeshott looked again at the materials she had gathered for her book Bad Boys of Brexit. A search for Russian information brought up a raft of emails suggesting that multiple meetings with the Russian Embassy had occurred.

          According to a memorandum submitted to the court in the Banks v Cadwalladr case, Oakeshott showed these emails to her then employers at The Sunday Times, offered to become a ‘whistleblower’ and wrote an analysis expressing concern that Banks could be working as an “agent of influence for the Russian state” and that she “cannot stand by while Banks publicly lies about his connections” to hostile foreign powers. 

          Indemnity deal between Isabel Oakeshott and Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens from November 2017

          Who else did she blow the whistle to? Oakeshott was already close to Farage in 2017 and later announced that she was in a relationship with Leave.EU’s co-founder Richard Tice. There should be little doubt they would have shared this information with Farage. What did they do about this stunning and worrying revelation of Russian influence in British politics – especially the momentous Brexit vote? 

          Precisely nothing. Until Cadwalladr and I obtained the information eight months later, and Oakeshott was forced to publish her material in The Sunday Times in June 2018. Sources say that Oakeshott rang Farage at the time and apologised for the story coming out. 

          It is not credible that Farage knew nothing about Russian interference in UK elections by 2018. Why did he never mention it?


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          For eight long years, most of the media has either ignored or failed to inquire how Farage has been a conduit for Russian influence in UK politics. For most of that time it was confused with the Brexit vote, and any questioning of foreign influence was dismissed as an attempt to question the legitimacy of the referendum. 

          But Brexit was finally done in January 2020. In February 2022, Russia’s plan for Ukraine became clear as it launched a full-scale invasion that led to 14 million displaced people and half a million casualties. This war – the first major land war in Europe for nearly 80 years – goes on and the clear and present threat Putin presents to NATO and its members can no longer be overlooked, or the role of fellow travellers ignored. 

          Farage needs to answer for his role in this historic and epoch-defining conflict.

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