The Guardian in its recent report disclosed how Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit propaganda was run by Sir Lynton Crosby’s lobbying company. The news daily’s story published on Thursday was a follow up on its April investigative piece. Crosby holds a powerful position in this regard as his consultancy has campaigned for every Conservative election since 2005.
The Guardian revealed that the Crosby’s company operated by running a fake Facebook campaigns, which influences users to follow groups like Mainstream Network and Britain’s Future, to be “mobilized to communicate directly with key decision-makers”, whether to brush the image of Saudi Arabia, provide one-sided view of Yemen war, call coal-burning good or, gather support for no-deal Brexit.
Such social media communities seem to be run by an individual but are actually connected to a common administrator managed by Crosby’s CTF company. It is said that the company has so far spent about £1m for promoting sophisticated targeted adverts with an aim to press individual MPs to go for a hard Brexit. The communities initially posted authentic news to gain public trust, while later switched to disseminating agenda-orientation information in the name of responsible journalism.
An ex-employee of the company told the Guardian that once CTF employees has discovered means that ‘provoked a strong reaction, they would double down’. The employee said, “if you’re after the Maga [make America great again] crowd you just target people like this. Then once you’ve got an audience you just target people like that.”
CTF not only promoted no-deal Brexit but the company’s partners gave Johnson an interest-free loan of £23,000, besides employing a Brexiter former Tory MP Stewart Jackson as an advisor and paid for the trips of former Brexit secretary David Davis.
The Guardian also suggested that the social media website knew about the issue related to the web of CTF pages since late last year.
The company said: “Our review to-date suggests the majority of these pages be operated by real people and do not currently violate our coordinated inauthentic behaviour policy. However, we take seriously the information shared by the Guardian and are continuing to review the activity of the pages mentioned.”
CTF refused to answer queries regarding its method of working or the clients it worked for. It rather accused Guardian of promoting false or distorted facts in the name of journalism for a political agenda. Commenting over Crosby – Johnson tie-up, as the two have a longstanding personal relationship, CTC lawyer said that any statement hinting that CTF or Crosby could exercise influence ‘on account of their ‘relationship’ with Mr. Johnson ignores the reality of the decision-making and policy process in Westminster and Whitehall’.