Russia report: Government ‘slow’ to recognise threat

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A long-awaited report on suspected Russian interference in British democracy has concluded that the government “took its eye off the ball” and failed to respond to Moscow’s threat.

The heavily-redacted Intelligence and Security Committee’s report noted that there had been widespread allegations that Russia sought to influence voters in the 2016 Brexit referendum but it would be “difficult – if not impossible” to assess whether any such attempts had been successful.

But the committee said the government was “slow to recognise the existence of the threat”.

It also said intelligence agencies and ministers should have been aware of the risk as a result of “credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum” in 2014.

Earlier today, Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has urged the government to establish a “coherent and consistent” approach to foreign policy.

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Alastair Stewart, the Wigan MP said: “I think the government has been desperately slow to wake up to the threat that is posed to British democracy by the Putin administration.”

The Labour frontbencher added: “We know before the report is even published that there have been repeated concerns not just about interference in British elections and referendums but also in US democracy, in democracies across Europe.

“It seems quite extraordinary that the government is still taking a very incoherent, inconsistent approach to Russia.”

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