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Britain for Sale: Tories Courting International Far-Right to Secure Post-Brexit Trade Deals

Anyone who has spent time on political Twitter and Facebook will know that there is an international alliance of support that runs through the MAGA trolls of Donald Trump to street thugs such as Tommy Robinson. This unholy international union sees promotion and defence of international far-right and Islamophobic politicians coming from all corners of Europe and the Americas, politicians such as Victor Orban, Jair Bolsanaro, Benjamin Netanyahu, Nigel Farage, Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen reaping the benefits of this unified online backing.

This far-right alliance is one that you would imagine all democratically-minded politicians and voters would immediately reject out of hand. Not so the Conservative Party.

The Tories have enthusiastically backed Trump, Netanyahu, Orban and Bolsonaro and no doubt would offer the same to Le Pen should she win the next French elections.

It could be argued that it was David Cameron who ignited the realignment toward the far-right when he became instrumental in forming the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group which consists of Eurosceptic and anti-federalist parties in the EU parliament. Cameron took Britain out of the mainstream European People’s Party (EPP) and placed the Tories in a bracket with far-right populist parties such as the Polish PiS Party, the Finns Party, the Danish People’s Party and even at one time Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). As such, in September of 2018, Conservative MEPs supported Victor Orban in efforts against a motion to censure him in the EU Parliament.

Orban had already been publicly backed by Boris Johnson that April.

The support was given in an effort to score “brownie points” with Orban in view of a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and Hungary. The Conservative Party was the only conservative party of government in Western Europe to back Orban, an individual who has described refugees as “Muslim invaders” and been accused of hold deep-seated Islamophobic and antisemitic beliefs.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the Conservative Party’s affiliation with Orban.

“We are very alarmed by the messages at the heart of Orbán’s election campaign, including his comments about ‘Muslim invaders’, calling migrants poison, and the vivid antisemitism in the relentless campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros.”

Board of Deputies of British Jews

The comments were echoed by Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

“Is Theresa May going to call out those Tory MEPs, who were whipped to vote to support Viktor Orban against a censure motion for his attacks on refugees and his antisemitism and Islamophobia? If not, I wouldn’t advise her to lecture anyone on racism again.”

John McDonnell

The criticism would far from be the end the Tories kowtowing to far-right and “strongman” regimes around the world, however.

Britain is particularly interested in forging links with Erdoğan’s Turkey for example, despite widespread condemnation of the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria and a host of human rights violations and crimes against humanity being reported from the Kurds. Erdoğan’s visit to London in 2018 was met with a legion of protest as the Turkish leader met with both Theresa May and the Queen.

“[Trade] is a very important component of our relationship. The aim of both governments is for our trade to not be disrupted by Brexit and to continue growing strongly as it has been doing”

British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott

Of course, Turkey’s partner in Syrian crime Donald Trump has always been the number one priority of a post-Tory Brexit Britain with “getting a good deal” becoming something of a Conservative obsession, Britain trying to persuade itself that it’s still America’s number one ally.

Trump, whose racist and far-right misadventures need little explaining, is dead-set on ensuring that America gets the best of any deal to the point of being an almost parody of toxic capitalism. The belief that Britain is likely to come out on top in such discussions falls squarely into the realms of fantasy.

Trump and American Big Pharma have the NHS squarely in their sights as Jeremy Corbyn exposed live on national television during the first leadership debate of the 2019 General Election.

Secret talks between senior British civil servants and representatives of several major American pharmaceutical giants concerning NHS drug prices have already taken place, with a Channel 4 source revealing British trade negotiators have had six meetings with U.S. counterparts to discuss what will compromise a future trade deal between Britain and the United States.

The source told Dispatches that drug prices and drug “price caps” have been a subject on the table at all six meetings between the two parties with representatives of U.S. Big Pharma being given direct access to British trade officials.

The new revelations have brought the future of the NHS to the forefront of the Brexit and general election debate, with fears growing that the Conservative Government are willing to sacrifice the NHS in order to secure a trade deal with the U.S.

While Britains overtures toward the racist administration of Donald Trump are well documented, less well known have been the advances made toward the far-right in Brazil.

UK Minister of State at the Department for International Trade Conor Burns met with Río de Janeiro state governor Wilson Witzel in June of 2019, Burns praising Bolsonaro and his “economic reforms”, which he stated were “reminiscent of Thatcher”. For his part Witzel hoped for “UK support on security”, Burns pledging to “work together on a range of issues, including security”.

Witzel, known as “The Butcher of Rio”, has been instrumental in the campaign of police brutality in the shantytown favelas of Rio, the police killing 881 people in the city during the first six months of this year alone as Wirtzel promised a “slaughter” of drug gangsters. He has notoriously called for snipers to murder those suspected of carrying assault rifles in the city and encouraged police to shoot into the streets from helicopters.

“The right thing [to do] is to kill thugs carrying rifles. The police will do the right thing: take aim at [a thug’s] little head and … fire! Just to be on the safe side.”

Wilson Witzel

Besides bringing terror to the poor neighbourhoods, Witzel has plans to create nothing less than a police state in the city, planning on utilising facial recognition cameras to identify targets. With the already confirmed program of terror, there can be little doubt these cameras would be used to facilitate yet more killings throughout Rio.

Enter the Conservative Party.

During his June meeting with Witzel, Burns was keen to point out the UK’s “noted expertise on facial recognition” and agreed to visit London in November. Witzel would shockingly visit Scotland Yard during his visit to inspect first hand “the British monitoring system to combat and prevent crime”, suggesting an exchange of personnel between police in Rio and the London Metropolitan Police.

Quite shockingly, Wilson Witzel is likely even more right-wing than Jair Bolsonaro, with whom he has had a recent falling out, despite once being a key ally. Witzel is seen as having aspirations toward the Presidency, while Bolsonaro has accused him of leaking details to the press that link him to the 2017 murder of socialist activist and councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes.

In August, Boris Johnson refused to side with French President Emmanuel Macron and Irish premier Leo Varadkar in threatening to block a South American trade deal if Bolsonaro refused to honour commitments designed to protect the Amazon rainforest in light of the devastating fires in the area. During his trip, Conor Burns was seen downing champagne with Marcos Troyjo, a Brazilian backer of Bolsonaro’s deforestation policy.

Both the regimes of Victor Orban and Jair Bolsonaro, alongside Trump, are particularly close to Steve Bannon and his so-called “movement”, a grouping of far-right parties across Europe that seeks to unite the international neo-fascist movement, Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro being its representative in South America.

Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News and White House Chief Strategist to Trump, has successfully forged links with far-right and Islamophobic nationalists across the world, including Matteo Salvini in Italy, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in Holland, alongside the aforementioned Trump, Orban and Bolsonaro.

Bannon, of course, is equally close to Boris Johnson.

In June of this year, The Observer obtained video of Bannon talking about his relationship with Johnson and how he helped draft his first speech following his resignation as Foreign Secretary, a speech where Johnson tore into Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. The footage was shot during Bannon’s time in London in 2018 when he met other members of the far-right including Nigel Farage.

“Right after we won [the 2016 American Presidential election], Boris flew over. Because their victory was as unexpected as ours. I got to know him quite well in the transition period.”

Steve Bannon

Bannon, Breitbart and Donald Trump have all received significant money from United States billionaire Robert Mercer. Mercer, who once described the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a major mistake, was the largest contributor to Republican candidates at the 2016 American election including significant donations to Donald Trump’s election campaign and that of warhawk Ted Cruz, also donating significant money to John Bolton’s super PAC. It would be Mercer who was instrumental in ensuring that Bannon and Kellyanne Conway attained senior roles with Trump.

Mercer’s donations to the American far-right also include a $2m donation to Secure America Now who produced highly Islamophobic adverts during the 2016 election. The adverts, which showed French schoolchildren training with Islamic State and the Mona Lisa covered in a burka, suggested that France was an Islamic State.

“Under Sharia law, you can enjoy everything the Islamic State of France has to offer, as long as you follow the rules”

Secure America Now advert, 2016

Secure America Now worked closely with Facebook and Google to ensure that only receptive demographics in key swing states ever saw the adverts, a situation with many echoes of the Cambridge Analytica scandal for which Mercer is best known in the United Kingdom.

Mercer donated the services of Cambridge Analytica to Nigel Farage, harvesting data from Facebook profiles to ensure that individuals were personally targeted with political advertising. The company has been reported to have undisclosed links to Canadian digital firm AggregateIQ who were instrumental in the VoteLeave campaign of Dominic Cummings. The donation by Mercer was not declared to the Electoral Commission. The vice-President of Cambridge Analytica? Steve Bannon of course.

Never having met an Islamophobe he didn’t like, Steve Bannon is, of course, a huge fan of India’s Narendra Modi, stating that he began “studying Modi in 2013” and that he “was a Trump before Trump”. Trump has likewise embraced Modi with open arms, throwing“a right-wing populist blowout” for the Indian Prime Minister at Houston’s NRG Stadium during his visit to the United States earlier this year.

Hindu nationalist Modi is widely seen as Islamophobic, with the Hinduvita movement being a physical threat to the safety of Muslims throughout India. The Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and the UK-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG) have said that there were at least 700 outbreaks of communal violence in 2015 that were inspired by Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the first year after Modi’s election, the violence including at least 86 killings and injuries to 2,321 others.

Last year, Theresa May and Modi signed off on a series of commercial agreements worth up to £1bn that will pave the way for a post-Brexit trade deal. Despite critics claims that any future deal will need to include access to the UK market for Indian workers, the Tories have been lavishing praise and attention on Modi while having little to say about the dire human rights situation in India and Kashmir.

The attention lavished on Modi by the Tories has seemingly paid off as reports from earlier this month show that activists directly linked Modi’s BJP have vowed to campaign for the Tories during the general election.

“We have a team in each constituency which is going round with the Tory candidate leafleting, speaking to people and persuading them to vote Tory. The teams are organised by the BJP and Friends of India Society International.”

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, president of Overseas Friends of BJP UK (OFBJPUK)

The campaign by the BJP on British soil is race and nationalist motivated with Shekhawat openly stating the BJP activists intend to try and unseat Tan Dhesi and Preet Gill, Britain’s only two Sikh MPs, both Labour.

“We are working with the Tory candidates in Keith Vaz’s ex seat, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s seat, Preet Gill’s seat, Lisa Nandy’s seat, Seema Malhotra’s and Valerie Vaz’s seats. Some of them have signed letters against India”

Kuldeep Singh Shekhawat, president of Overseas Friends of BJP UK (OFBJPUK)

It isn’t only the BJP supporting Boris Johnson from the far-right at home however, the Prime minister receiving the plaudits of the likes of Britain First, Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins in recent weeks following his calls for nationalism and the racist dog-whistling of Priti Patel, support that Johnson is in no hurry to reject as he refuses to apologise for his past racism and refuses to sanction a full investigation into institutional Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

Beyond our shores, enabled by an unchecked and rabid far-right leaning international press, the subversive support of Islamophobic foreign states and an uncontrollable social media, the far-right has successfully mobilised internationally. From the American far-right of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, through Orban, Modi and Bolsonaro, there is a “fascist international” developing and Boris Johnson and the Conservative government are well past the fringes and into open courting of Islamophobes, antisemites and other assorted racists as they attempt to secure international trade deals and find the Tories a place at Bannon’s table.

Boris Johnson’s willingness to subvert the rule of law, engage in open racist rhetoric and engage in the kind of fake news propaganda campaigns that we see from Donald Trump, show that the Tories are now enthralled to the ideology of Trumpism and have no qualms about dealing the far-right regimes of Victor Orban, Narendra Modi and Jair Bolsonaro in the same way they find no issue in dealing with the murderous regimes of Saudi Arabia and Israel. This new ideology is a danger not only to Britain and the people of this country but a profound threat to international peace and security. Britain deserves better than being Donald Trump’s Mini-Me.

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