The ‘bad boys of Brexit’ have some big questions to answer | Matthew d’Ancona

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The sheer scale of contacts between Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore and Russian officials has been revealed. The implications for our politics could be huge

As Verbal Kint says in The Usual Suspects: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” And, as we have fresh reason to reflect this weekend, it appears that certain key Brexiteers may have played a similar trick. The popular view of them as a bunch of cheeky chaps is being challenged: their actions increasingly regarded as fitting the agenda of a global network of the populist right that stretches from Moscow to the Trump White House via the surging nationalist parties of continental Europe.

Stories in the Observer and Sunday Times about key figures in the Leave.EU campaign and their connection to Russian diplomats and businessmen are scoops of degree rather than kind. We have known for two years that Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit tycoon, and his closest henchman, Andy Wigmore, visited the Russian embassy in November 2015, just as we have long been aware of the links between Leave.EU and the Trump campaign.

Related: Arron Banks ‘met Russian officials multiple times before Brexit vote’

Related: Stay focused Brexiters – Russia is not the enemy | Stewart Lee

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