Dec 7, 2019

Reddit: Accounts sharing sensitive U.S.-U.K. trade documents linked to Russia

Reddit's logo on a smartphone. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Reddit said that accounts that shared sensitive U.S.-U.K. trade documents on its platform acted as part of a suspected Russian-based disinformation operation, in a post on Friday.

The big picture: The platform believes that the accounts that shared the leaked documents are tied to the same Russian disinformation campaign reported by Facebook in May, which focused on Ukraine, the Syrian civil war and "political news in Europe."

Background: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed in November that the leaked documents provided evidence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson putting the U.K.’s National Health Service "up for sale" in trade talks — which Johnson has repeatedly denied, tweeting that the NHS "will not be on the table for any trade negotiations."

  • The leaked documents address several key issues, per the BBC: drug pricing and patents, food safety and labeling and potentially include a reference to climate change in the bilateral trade agreement.
  • The documents don't show that U.K. negotiators agreed to anything during talks with the U.S. in 2017 and 2018, per Axios' Shane Savitsky.
  • But, the leak suggested that the U.S. wanted the NHS to be "on the table" in post-Brexit talks, Politico reports.
  • The U.K.'s Brexit-focused general election is set for Dec. 12.

Details: Reddit says it has suspended 61 accounts and 1 subreddit for platform misuse and vote manipulation on posts sharing the leaked documents.

Go deeper: Corbyn accuses Tories of putting NHS "up for sale" in post-Brexit U.S. trade deal

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Why Trump cares about this week's U.K. elections

Trump and Johnson at the NATO summit in London this month. Photo: Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images

President Trump will be watching another political contest this week: The U.K.'s Dec. 12 general election will decide what happens to Brexit and if Prime Minister Boris Johnson — aka "Britain Trump" — remains in charge.

Why it matters: If Johnson's Conservatives win the majority in Parliament, Brexit clears the way for the bilateral U.S.-U.K. trade relationship that Trump favors over negotiating with the European Union.

Go deeperArrowDec 8, 2019

U.K. election: Polls put Boris Johnson on track for a pro-Brexit victory

Johnson today on the campaign trail. Photo: Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be steaming toward the parliamentary majority he desperately desires to pass his Brexit deal and end the gridlock in Westminster.

Why it matters: Thursday’s vote is the culmination of three years of intense efforts to deliver Brexit, and to block it. The rocky road Johnson has plodded along since replacing Theresa May in July would become much smoother with a resounding electoral mandate.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

AOC urges U.K. voters to back Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party

Photos: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images; Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged U.K. voters to head to the polls to vote for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in Thursday's general election.

"The hoarding of wealth by the few is coming at the cost of peoples’ lives. The only way we change is with a massive surge of *new* voters at the polls. U.K., Vote!"

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez, who said a Labour-created video "might as well have been produced about the United States," is the latest big-name U.S. politician to have a stake in the U.K.'s trip to the polls — which features Brexit at its center.

Go deeperArrowDec 12, 2019