Brian Williams Blames Russian ‘Election Meddling’ for Brexit

Breaking into live coverage of the Senate confirmation hearing for President Trump’s Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Tuesday afternoon, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams informed viewers about the Brexit deal being rejected by Parliament in the UK. He insisted that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was the result of Russian “election meddling.”

“And remember that this will always be looked at this way by a certain component of the population, that Russia’s first foray into election meddling, campaigns of disinformation, trying to break up old alliances, will by some forever be viewed as the Brexit campaign and the Brexit vote,” Williams declared as he began the breaking news report, appealing to his left-wing audience.

 

 

He then proclaimed that “The Brexit deal has just failed miserably,” before turning to correspondent Bill Neely in London. Neely breathlessly announced: “You called it miserable, it is also historic. That defeat is 230 votes. Not for 100 years has that happened.” After describing some of the political maneuvering in the wake of the vote, Neely concluded: “So, you know, Britain today, tonight is a divided country and we now have a totally defeated government.”

Williams hoped for another referendum on the subject, so British voters could supposedly get it right this time: “Is there, Bill, a mechanism where voters will take this on again, where there will be a freer and more fair campaign?”

After claiming that was a “possibility,” Neely lamented the outcome of the 2016 Brexit vote:

We had a referendum, it was a straight in or out vote, “Do you want to be part of the European Union or not?” And the result was 52-48. Now, in, you know, many straightforward elections, that would be seen as a straight majority. But in a referendum that was meant to be simply advisory, this is – you know, it was a terribly contentious result.

He warned that a second referendum could “provoke violence” and “increase people’s distrust in the whole political process.”

The reporter then compared the political turmoil in the UK to the U.S.: “And Brian, there are parallels here between the UK and the U.S. We have seen a rise in populism, if you like. We have a divided country. We have, as demonstrated tonight, gridlocked government, a parliament in paralysis...”

Williams wrapped up the segment by making the sometimes messy process of democracy sound like a disease: “Yeah, and your description, it kind of sounds like a contagion. Think of it, these two pillars of the special relationship, these two pillars of the postwar alliance.”

If voters don’t make the decision the liberal media want, it’s either due to Russian manipulation or some kind of political illness.

Here is a full transcript of the January 15 report:

2:59 PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS:  We’re gonna jump in here right quick with some news from overseas. You’ve probably seen it if you’ve seen the lower right hand corner of your screen. And remember that this will always be looked at this way by a certain component of the population, that Russia’s first foray into election meddling, campaigns of disinformation, trying to break up old alliances, will by some forever be viewed as the Brexit campaign and the Brexit vote. The Brexit deal has just failed miserably.

202 members of Parliament voted for Teresa May’s Brexit deal, 432 voted against her deal. Bill Neely, our correspondent there, is standing by with us. Bill, tell us about this loss, tell us what it means for what is left of the May government, and what it means, most importantly, for the future.

BILL NEELY: Brian, good afternoon. You called it miserable, it is also historic. That defeat is 230 votes. Not for 100 years has that happened. The last time a government was defeated by anything like that was in 1924, when a labor government was defeated by 166 votes. This trumps everything.

So Teresa May is still in office, she hasn’t resigned, but she is not in power. And of course, the big question now is, what next? Because at the moment, there is no plan B. So after that defeat, Teresa May stood up defiantly and said, first of all, she would talk to other political parties in the UK, then she will go back to the European union. But the main opposition party has tabled a motion of no confidence in her.

Now, for party political reasons, because she has a slim majority in the House of Commons, she is likely to win that vote, but Brian, it doesn’t really get us any further. On March the 29th, Britain, whether it has a deal or no deal, will leave the European Union. That’s just over 70 days away. And right now, there is no mechanism by which Britain will leave, apart from just crashing out.

So, you know, Britain today, tonight is a divided country and we now have a totally defeated government.

WILLIAMS: Is there, Bill, a mechanism where voters will take this on again, where there will be a freer and more fair campaign? I know the EU came back at the UK more aggressively than anyone had foreseen, but do you think this will be up to the voters again?

NEELY: Well, there is the possibility of a second referendum. We had a referendum, it was a straight in or out vote, “Do you want to be part of the European Union or not?” And the result was 52-48. Now, in, you know, many straightforward elections, that would be seen as a straight majority. But in a referendum that was meant to be simply advisory, this is – you know, it was a terribly contentious result.

So there are dangers in asking people, “Look, you know, yeah, we heard you the first time, but actually, we want you to vote again.” A lot of people are really worried that, that could, for example, provoke violence. It would increase people’s distrust in the whole political process.

And Brian, there are parallels here between the UK and the U.S. We have seen a rise in populism, if you like. We have a divided country. We have, as demonstrated tonight, gridlocked government, a parliament in paralysis, and now people are calling for some kind of way to get us out of this, whether it’s a general election or a second referendum. But the way ahead is not clear.

And Britain has never been in this position before. I mean, for 75 years, since World War II, Britain has had a policy of close integration with Europe. And for 45 years, membership of the European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc. That, in just over 70 days time, is due to end, and no one, no one knows right now how that exactly will end. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, and your description, it kind of sounds like a contagion. Think of it, these two pillars of the special relationship, these two pillars of the postwar alliance. Thank you so much for that live report from London. Bill Neely, certainly a day of big consequence over there.

NB Daily Brexit Vote Europe Britain MSNBC Video Brian Williams Bill Barr

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