In the UK, confidential information leaked on the eve of the December 12 early parliamentary election. Reddit outlet has published several documents of the British working group, involved in the development of the agreement on the free trade zone of the United Kingdom and the United States.
The author of the post is confident that the UK government is ready to bend under the interests of the United States and abandon the sanitary and phytosanitary standards of the European Union, open a market for American food products containing pesticides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, and turn a blind eye to reducing imports of high-quality and environmentally friendly food.
The documents mentioned that Americans raised issues related to food standards, the settlement of disputes between private investors and the state, the UK national health system, including the prospects for providing access to generic medicines.
According to the documents, the British authorities must decide whether the national health system will participate in commercial activities or not. Information was disseminated in the media. There are suspicions that Russia may be involved in the leakage of documents, despite the fact that the Kremlin, as always, has denied any interference.
Information published on Reddit fits into the British opposition’s election agenda. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn uses the documents as evidence that the ruling Conservative Party has decided to make the UK national health system the subject of a deal with the United States.
If we do not take into account the discussion about Brexit, the idea of a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU, then counteracting the privatization of the national health system is a favorite topic of the Labor leader for self-PR.
Corbyn is categorically against the privatization of state medical institutions, the complete transition to private insurance medicine, which is practiced in the United States. He fears that the British health care market will be flooded with American clinics and drug manufacturers in a free trade zone.
The politician argues that the presence of US companies in the UK medical services sector will lead to higher prices for drugs and services in hospitals, which are more expensive in the US than in the UK.
The UK has no consensus on the future development of the healthcare system. Today, the majority of medical facilities are in state ownership, and their services are cheaper than in the United States. Some reputable British doctors - such as Professor Stephen Hawking - strongly oppose the transition to the American model of the healthcare system, where medicine is private and most citizens pay for insurance.
According to a YouGov survey, 59% of Britons are comfortable with their healthcare system. Although private medicine is also developing quite dynamically. According to the GMB, since 2015, more than 60% of medical contracts have been carried out by private firms under outsourcing.
However, Corbyn’s arguments about the impending threat to the national health system, until recently, were weak. The British government and US President Donald Trump refute the assumption that the agreement on a free trade area will affect British medicine.
Sajid Javid, British Conservative Party politician, announced plans to allocate more than £ 6 billion to develop the national health system in 2020. Even Chris Hopson, chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, and Kerry Hopson, chairman of the NHS Providers Medical Trust Fund, urged politicians not to speculate on the national health care system for election purposes.
Documents from Reddit might sow doubt in the minds of British voters. Indeed, if issues related to the health system are raised at the stage of preparing an agreement on a free trade zone, then Corbyn is right. Investigation of the circumstances of information leakage, verification of its reliability will require time, which is not. The British will go to the polls tomorrow.
With the help of an informational flush, Corbyn expects to win over as many voters as possible who are interested in maintaining the national health system in the form in which it is, put Prime Minister Boris Johnson and conservatives as traitors to the interests of British society.
The leak is designed to improve the image of Labor in the eyes of British voters. Not surprisingly, according to the ICM poll, only 33% of British voters support Labor. Conservatives lead by a wide margin in the election race, for which 43% of Britons are ready to vote. From August to December, the level of support for the potential partner of the Labor Party in the coalition, the Liberal Democratic Party, decreased (from 20% to 13% of voters).
The ratings of supporters of the Brexit Party also slipped - from 25% in early June to 9% three days before the election. Well, the "Green" support only 3%. Johnson has a real chance of retaining the prime minister’s seat and forming a coalition with the Brexit Party. That is why Corbyn uses all possible means to discredit the image of his opponents.
British intelligence agencies believe that Russia may be involved in the publication of documents. Russian hackers could break into the servers where the files were stored, and then distribute them to Reddit. The site administration has already blocked 61 fake accounts, which distributed a scandalous publication.
Similarly, Russian trolls act on Facebook: first, they publish conflicting information in the form of a post, and then they repost from many fake accounts in different languages. There were cases when fake accounts disguised themselves as official pages of political forces, including the Labor Party.
The purpose of such publications is to undermine transatlantic relations and deepen disagreements among the countries - members of NATO and the European Union. The Atlantic Council analytical center allows the existence of a whole network of Internet trolls on 30 platforms with dozens of fake accounts, which has been coordinated from Russia since 2014. Informally, they call it the Secondary Wave.
The publication of scandalous documents in Reddit may be one of the manifestations of this network. The documents were published in Reddit back in October, but made available to the public a week before the UK election.
It is possible that one organization was engaged in this. Fake accounts worked to discredit the image of the Conservative Party and Johnson, adjusting to the interests of the Labor Party in order to influence the election results in its favor. Similarly, Russian intelligence services intervened in the US elections in 2016, when they campaigned for Trump through fake accounts, hacked the servers of the Democratic Party.
Chartered libertine of the Kremlin
Corbyn is preferable to the Kremlin in the chair of the British Prime Minister instead of Johnson, who takes a tough stance against Russia, adheres to the policy of anti-Russian sanctions and expects to strengthen relations with the United States after leaving the EU.
Labor leader considers NATO an instrument of US foreign policy, supported the idea of the dissolution of the alliance. Corbyn will minimize defense spending. He considers it appropriate to abandon Britain's nuclear weapons.
Corbyn’s views on foreign policy are similar to the Kremlin’s position. He criticizes U.S. foreign policy, questions the legitimacy of coalition airstrikes in Syria, downplays Iran’s aggressive behavior in the Middle East, supports Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in a civil confrontation with center-right and blames Americans for overthrowing socialist president Evo Morales in Bolivia.
The activities of Russian Internet trolls can have the opposite effect on the reputation of Labor and Corbyn. If Russia did interfere in the UK elections on the side of the Labor Party, then Corbyn would never wash off the stigma of an agent of Kremlin influence.
Conservatives will harass him. Journalists are already asking politicians uncomfortable questions about Russia's interference in the British election on the side of the Labor Party. Labor leaders can be blamed for ties to Russia - just like Trump.
In the end, even the opponents of Brexit, on whom they are guided, will turn away from the Labor Party. Therefore, Corbyn himself plays the “Russian card”: he condemned Johnson for the fact that among the sponsors of the Conservative Party there are Russian oligarchs because the prime minister had not previously published a report on the intervention of Russian special services in the political processes of Great Britain.