The Intricate Network: Climate Deniers, Neo-Nazis, Brexiteers

June 22, 2019

It’s a mistake to believe everything can be explained by a grand conspiracy.
It’s also a mistake to believe that powerful people do not make alliances to further their interests.

The most powerful, and well-networked people on earth are in the fossil fuel industry, and their desire to remove all constraints on their power is the story of our time.

Le Monde Diplomatique:

New evidence reveals how a tightly concentrated global network of politicians and corporations with close ties to the Trump administration is working on behalf of powerful US fossil fuel interests in Britain and Europe.

Several candidates who were in the running to become the next British Prime Minister — Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, and Steve Baker — are part of this pro-Trump network.

The evidence comes thanks to a network map produced by independent investigative media outlet DeSmog UK, exposing for the first time the astonishing array of connections between President Donald Trump, right-wing lobbies in the US, and far-right parties in the UK and Europe.

Published after a leaked recording showed US secretary of state Mike Pompeo threatening to interfere in British democracy to block opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, the map unveils the extent to which US corporate lobbies with a direct line to senior Trump officials are backing both mainstream British politicians and European far-right extremists.

The map released by DeSmog UK exposes how UK Conservative politicians competing for leadership of the party — and of the country — are embedded in a Trumpist lobbying network with funding from US oil and gas companies.

The connections go through a nexus of hardline pro-Brexit lobbying groups campaigning for the break-up of the EU, concentrated around a single, unremarkable-looking road in London, Tufton Street. The Tufton Street network not only works closely with well-known British politicians, it also has extensive ties to far-right parties in Europe with roots in neo-Nazism, from the Sweden Democrats to the Brothers of Italy. Tufton Street groups have received $5.6 million from anonymous US donors since 2008.

The network map uncovers how this nexus of British groups around Tufton Street is being used, through funding and personnel, by the Atlas Network, a neoconservative non-profit based in Washington DC. Funded by the Kochs, Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, Atlas’ main London partner is the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), which has lobbied key UK government ministers including several competing to become the next prime minister.

The Atlas Network has direct connections with top Trump administration officials and supports over 450 organizations around the world to promote its vision of the ‘free-market’ — a euphemism for eliminating government regulations, rolling back environment laws, and slashing public spending in the interests of the wealthiest.

Atlas Network think tanks are funded by some of the biggest US fossil fuel producers and funders of climate science denial — such as the Koch brothers (through the Koch Foundation and Donors Trust), ExxonMobil and MasterCard.

The map thus reveals the lines of influence by which US fossil fuel interests are using British lobbying groups based around Tufton Street to interfere in British politics.

Among the map’s implications is that the UK’s hardline Brexit lobby is far from truly ‘nationalist’ — but is actually operating as a front for Trump’s ‘America First’ lobbying efforts to break into European markets.

Mat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK, explained the map’s findings:

‘The map shows how connected this network of people are that portray themselves as neutral experts, but who are actually campaigners for a very specific cause. It shows how a US style politics of funding highly ideological groups to spread a message that suits politicians with a particular radical free-market agenda is now infiltrating the UK.’

The result, he said, is that Brexit has been hijacked by ‘major US funders of climate science denial including the Koch Brothers, and think tanks with strong ties to Donald Trump’, whom he accused of ‘influencing UK politics at the highest level.’

David and Charles Koch, the owners behind Koch Industries — America’s largest private fossil fuel company — are major Atlas Network donors. They are notorious for funding climate science denial to the tune of more than one hundred million dollars over two decades, and have massive influence over the Trump administration through relationships with key federal staffers. ExxonMobil, one of the top funders of climate science denial, has financed Atlas-affiliates like the climate denying Heartland Institute and donated to the ‘American Friends of IEA’, a US-based fundraising vehicle for the IEA, Atlas’ chief London partner.

The map suggests that the Trump-connected Atlas Network is directly implicated in secretive US lobbying efforts to subvert British democracy. Atlas’ chief London partner, the IEA, was outed last year as having offered to broker access to senior British politicians for American donors trying to influence Brexit. The IEA denied the allegations, but the alleged scam appears to have been part of a wider strategy.

The IEA is closely connected to the notorious climate denial propaganda unit, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), situated on 55 Tufton Street. Three IEA trustees — Nigel Vinson, Neil Record, and Michael Hintze — are GWPF funders. Both the GWPF and IEA were among a total of nine Tufton Street-based organizations accused in court documents of breaking election laws in a coordinated push for a hard Brexit that would torpedo Britain’s climate targets and leave ‘gaping holes’ in environmental regulation.

By illustrating for the first time how embedded these Tufton Street networks are within Washington’s Atlas Network, the new map indicates that these hard-Brexit British lobbies acted in concert with powerful fossil fuel interests with significant leverage inside the Trump administration.

DeSmog UK’s map illustrates how Conservative Party candidates competing to become Britain’s next prime minister are deeply embedded in the Atlas Network through its Tufton Street partners.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson (Trump’s favourite for prime minister) helped Tory MEP Daniel Hannan found the Tufton Street outfit Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), whose staffers have been hosted by Atlas-affiliated groups, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Heritage Foundation.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is being advised by Tufton Street veteran Matthew Elliott — whose wife is a member of Americans for Tax Reform, the Koch-funded lobbying vehicle.

Jeremy Hunt has been hosted by the Tufton group, New Culture Forum, where Elliott is on the board. After Trump quoted white supremacist Katie Hopkins’ tweet attacking the Muslim Mayor of London, Hunt said he agreed with Trump’s overall sentiment ‘150 percent’.

Other candidates who have worked with the Atlas Network’s main London partner, the IEA, include former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, described as ‘the IEA’s man in government’; environment secretary Michael Gove and former Brexit minister Steve Baker who were both linked to an IEA lobbying scandal to allow US donors to influence British policy advice; and former environment secretary Andrea Leadsom, a longstanding member of the IEA’s Free Enterprise Group.

The same nexus works intimately with far-right movements in Europe.

Tufton veteran Tory MEP Daniel Hannan — who has himself been hosted by Atlas affiliates — cofounded the Conservative Party’s EU network of political parties, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE).

ACRE has cultivated contact with Spain’s anti-Muslim Vox party; Matteo Salvini’s anti-migrant League, part of Italy’s populist government; and Brothers of Italy, a fringe anti-migrant party with fascist roots. For years, Hannan has worked alongside fellow ACRE member, Morten Messerschmidt, a Danish People’s Party MEP who promoted ideas reminiscent of the ‘great replacement’ theory — the racist notion that white populations are being replaced by predominantly Muslim migrants. ACRE’s newest members include the Sweden Democrats, another party with neo-Nazi roots, some of whose officials are former Nazis.

By far one of the most disturbing Tufton Street connections goes through Nigel Farage, founder and former head of the racist-harbouring UKIP party, and Vice Chair of Leave Means Leave, a hardline Brexit group, which is based on the next street along.

During Farage’s leadership of UKIP, at one point the party mysteriously removed its ban on racists becoming members. Farage also met secretly with two anti-Semitic officials from the notorious neo-Nazi British National Party (BNP): one of whom had authored a pamphlet blaming a Jewish conspiracy for orchestrating ‘the mass immigration of non-Europeans into every White country on earth.’

Farage later negotiated UKIP’s alliance with an European Parliamentary grouping comprised largely of white-supremacist and pro-Nazi parties. This year, he formed the Brexit Party, which won the largest number of British votes in the European elections in May. Apart from cavorting with racists, Farage has a long sordid history of climate science denialism, as do numerous politiciansfrom his new party.

Given his embeddedness in the Atlas-dominated Tufton network, Farage’s private meeting with Donald Trump during his recent London visit speaks volumes.

‘We need effective regulation, although it’s difficult to know how that might be designed,’ professor Parvin told me on the unknown impact of foreign lobbying.

Farage exemplifies how this European nexus of climate science denialism and white supremacism is being weaponized by US fossil fuel giants with leverage over Trump’s government, to co-opt the Brexit agenda for their own ends. This would seem to offer little to European citizens, and even less to Europe’s minorities — but a great deal to US corporations.The Atlas Network has direct connections with top Trump administration officials and supports over 450 organizations around the world to promote its vision of the ‘free-market’ — a euphemism for eliminating government regulations, rolling back environment laws, and slashing public spending in the interests of the wealthiest.

Atlas Network think tanks are funded by some of the biggest US fossil fuel producers and funders of climate science denial — such as the Koch brothers (through the Koch Foundation and Donors Trust), ExxonMobil and MasterCard.

The map thus reveals the lines of influence by which US fossil fuel interests are using British lobbying groups based around Tufton Street to interfere in British politics.

Among the map’s implications is that the UK’s hardline Brexit lobby is far from truly ‘nationalist’ — but is actually operating as a front for Trump’s ‘America First’ lobbying efforts to break into European markets.

Mat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK, explained the map’s findings:

‘The map shows how connected this network of people are that portray themselves as neutral experts, but who are actually campaigners for a very specific cause. It shows how a US style politics of funding highly ideological groups to spread a message that suits politicians with a particular radical free-market agenda is now infiltrating the UK.’

The result, he said, is that Brexit has been hijacked by ‘major US funders of climate science denial including the Koch Brothers, and think tanks with strong ties to Donald Trump’, whom he accused of ‘influencing UK politics at the highest level.’

I was first tipped off on this by a tweet from Naomi Oreskes.

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2 Responses to “The Intricate Network: Climate Deniers, Neo-Nazis, Brexiteers”

  1. indy222 Says:

    I wonder if the good guys in this drama have what it takes to prevail over this stranglehold by the Koch’s and the rest? Or will we just write more sternly worded letters to our (Koch bought/Koch paid for) congressman?

  2. Allie G. Says:

    We need to find out which oil companies are the worst (or perhaps the one that is the worst) and make an example of it by refusing to buy products from it. This needs to be a large grassroots effort. Could it happen? Could citizens break an oil company? I don’t know, but I do know these companies have way too much power. They need more regulation.


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