The George Soros-backed group described by the British media as being behind a ''secret plot to thwart Brexit'' has issued a stark warning over the consequences of Britain leaving the EU.
| || |
|George Soros || |
In its first public statement since the furore broke, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) warned that ''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''.
The group made a statement after a front-page article in The Telegraph accused its founder, the billionaire philanthropist Soros, of seeking to undermine Brexit. The report was also carried by other newspapers including The Guardian.
The Telegraph piece, penned by Theresa May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, claimed the OSF was trying to bring down her government
It provoked a huge backlash as Soros is often the target of far-right conspiracy theorists who accuse him of being part of a Jewish plot to establish a New World Order, amongst other things.
European Parliament's Brexit chief, Guy Verhofstadt, accused Timothy of spreading ''Kremlin-sponsored conspiracy theories''.
He told the Independent, ''Viktor Orban and his illiberal friends, who are obsessed with demonising human rights and free speech advocates, would be proud.
''For decades, the UK has been a beacon and stalwart defender of liberal democratic principles within Europe and beyond and I hope this will continue.''
Timothy has vehemently denied the article was in any way anti-Semitic.
''Throughout my career I've campaigned against anti-Semitism, helped secure more funding for security at synagogues and Jewish schools, fought to lift the cap on faith schools, and supported Israel. The accusations and insinuations against me are as absurd as they are offensive,'' he said.
In his response to the piece, Patrick Gaspard, President of the OSF, highlighted that in addition to two Best for Britain grants totalling under £400,000, the OSF has pledged the European Movement UK £182,000 and awarded £35,000 to Scientists for EU.
It has also given Conservative think-tank Bright Blue £86,000 to campaign for the protection of rights currently enshrined in European law.
He added, ''It is essential that they are informed and empowered to make decisions about the future relationship between the UK and the EU.''
Beginning his career in merchant banks in London, Soros went on to become one of the world's most successful investors and currency speculators.
In 1992 he was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England" after he made hundreds of millions betting against the pound on 'Black Wednesday'. Meanwhile the UK Treasury lost £3.4 billion and Britain was hit by recession.
In October 2017 he donated £12.5 billion of his fortune to his philanthropic organisation, the Open Society Foundations, which supports liberal causes.