Brexit-Backer and Trump Ally Arron Banks Brings Breitbart, Drudge Report-Inspired News Site to the UK

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On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a new website is being launched in Britain inspired by the rise of far right, climate science denying American sites the Drudge Report and Breitbart.

As the BBC’s new “fake news” watch team reported, the website, Westmonster, is being launched by UKIP’s millionaire backer Arron Banks who funded the Leave.EU campaign for Brexit and Nigel Farage’s former press adviser, the 27-year-old Michael Heaver.

Westmonster describes itself as “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.”

Breitbart, the Drudge Report, Farage, and Trump are all well known for promoting climate change misinformation and denying the science which shows that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause behind rising global temperatures.

And as was seen in June, the Brexit campaign was led primarily by those individuals and organizations who are against taking action to tackle climate change in the UK.

Most recently, DeSmog UK revealed how a new ‘special relationship’ is emerging between climate science deniers across the Atlantic with links back to both the incoming Trump administration and Theresa May’s cabinet.

Banks and Farage will be celebrating the Presidential inauguration in a hotel across the road from the White House on Saturday night (which Trump is slated to attend, “logistics permitting”, the BBC reported).

Until recently Banks had not been a highly public figure, however, he has been described as “the man who bought Brexit” by the New Statesmen. This was done not only through the millions he donated to the Leave.EU campaign but also in hiring various PR strategists and analytics companies to refine the campaign messaging.

As he’s quoted saying: “What they [US campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster] said early on was, ‘Facts don’t work,’ and that’s it. The Remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

Banks also hired the services of Cambridge Analytica, a “psychographic” advertising company for the Leave.EU campaign.

Cambridge Analytica is reportedly owned by the Mercers – a family which has recently come to attention for having donated millions to the Trump campaign. And as DeSmogBlog revealed, the Mercers have also pumped at least $22 million into organisations that push climate science denial while blocking moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who founded Breitbart, is also on Cambridge Analytica’s board.

Cambridge Analytica, which was also deployed for Trump’s presidential campaign, uses Facebook quizzes and other methods unknown to users in order to build profiles of voters consisting of up to 5,000 points of data on everything from age and gender to what magazines or soda you buy.

The company is an offshoot of Strategic Communications Laboratories which is a behavioural research and communications firm reportedly offering military disinformation campaigns as well as voter targeting and social media branding.

As the BBC described: “Westmonster will be powered by the social media reach of Leave.EU.”

Updated 19/01/2017: A line about Steve Bannon was added.

Photo: Pixabay | CC0

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Kyla is a freelance writer and editor with work appearing in the New York Times, National Geographic, HuffPost, Mother Jones, and Outside. She is also a member of the Society for Environmental Journalists.

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