The UK Daily Telegraph first reported late on Wednesday that Soros has delivered £400,000 ($A716,000) to the anti-Brexit “Best for Britain” campaign via his Open Society Foundations.
He also hosted big-money donors at his London home as part of the group’s goal to raise support to nix the implementation of the Brexit referendum.
Best for Britain is currently led by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown — a former diplomat and UN deputy secretary-general — and is reportedly planning a massive ad campaign to push for a second referendum to make voters rethink the decision to leave the EU.
“George Soros’ foundations have, along with a number of other major donors, also made significant contributions to our work,” Lord Malloch-Brown told Reuters. He also confirmed that the £400,000 number was accurate.
Open Society Foundations said that the Best for Britain funding was one of a number of Brexit-related grants the organisation had made, including a £182,000 ($A326,000) grant to European Movement UK.
“Human rights protections, hard-won civil and labour rights, safeguards on key issues such as clean air or food standards are at stake here for British citizens,” Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations and former Obama White House political affairs director, said in a statement.
“It is essential that they are informed and empowered to make decisions about the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
“The Open Society Foundations support British groups striving to ensure that this crucial debate is not shut down. A fundamental principle of open societies is that people get to decide how they are governed, knowing exactly what they stand to gain and what they stand to lose.”
Soros has used his financial muscle for years to push left-wing causes across the globe. In Davos, Switzerland, last month, Soros said his Open Society Foundations is funding more institutions in the US to ensure a Democratic victory in November.
Glad we are finally talking about the influence of George Soros. Time to wake up. https://t.co/2yxrJP7Lxd
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) February 8, 2018
The Telegraph reports that Best for Britain is planning mass rallies, concerts, “guerrilla marketing tactics” and efforts to pressure MPs into voting against a Brexit deal once negotiations are complete so as to trigger either a second referendum or a general election to oust Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government in favour of one led by hard-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The revelation will serve to fuel fears from pro-Brexit Britons that there is an international campaign of elites from Brussels to London looking to quash the 2016 result. Nick Timothy, a former May chief of staff, said the news was a “wake-up call” to Brexiteers.
“Elitist Remainers are plotting to bring down the government,” he wrote.
Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage made a similar call, saying he was glad Britain was finally talking about the influence of Soros, tweeting: “Time to wake up.”
Unease has been growing among the Brexit camp after the euphoria of the summer of 2016 has died down. The government’s negotiations with Brussels have become increasingly rocky, with the EU taking a hard line as negotiations heat up ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc in 2019.
EU officials have likely been buoyed by increasingly vocal pro-Remain sentiment among Britain’s political and media elites.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been unapologetic in his calls for Britain to stay in the bloc, has been among the many high-profile voices calling for a potential second referendum, describing it not as an exercise in frustrating the will of the voters, but a chance for voters to “think again” once the terms of the deal are set.
“Once we know the alternative, we should be entitled to think again, either through Parliament or an election or through a fresh referendum, which will, of course, not be a rerun of the first because it will involve this time a choice based on knowledge of the alternative to existing EU membership,” he wrote in a piece for The New Statesman last month.
But while some polls have suggested that Brits may be open to thinking again, others say the opposite. Leaders on both sides of the fight seem to acknowledge that the mood in the UK is that the government should see through the referendum.
“[P]ublic opinion remains consistent,” Timothy said in an analysis for the Telegraph. “There has been no sudden movement against Brexit, despite an ongoing campaign against it and criticism of the government’s negotiating position.”
In a BBC interview last month, the pro-Remain Malloch-Brown said, “I think people are changing their minds”, before conceding that “they haven’t changed it as dramatically as I would like to see”.