Boris Johnson defends United Kingdom government track record on Russian Federation


LONDON (AP) - Britain's government faced heated questions on national security Wednesday after a damning intelligence committee report on Russian meddling in the nation's politics concluded the United Kingdom should examine allegations of interference in the European Union referendum.

In a 20-page response obtained by The Associated Press the British government reportedly denied underestimating the Russian threat, and added that there was no evidence that Russia had interfered in the 2016 Brexit vote, a claim the report had urged be investigated.

"The people of this country didn't vote to leave the European Union because of pressure from Russia or Russian interference - they voted because they wanted to take back control", Mr. Johnson told lawmakers, as quoted by Reuters.

Relations between London and Moscow hit a post-Cold War low in 2018 when Britain blamed Moscow for trying to kill former double agent Sergei Skripal with a Soviet-developed nerve agent on British soil.

Russia's cyber attack capability "when combined with its willingness to deploy it in a malicious capacity, is a matter of grave concern" which represents an "urgent threat to our national security".

One need only look at the "independent" intelligence experts who contributed to the report to understand its intent.

The UK government has now stiffened its attitude to Putin's Russian Federation. The Guardian raves that the intelligence services had abundant evidence of Russian Federation attempting to influence the 2014 Scottish referendum, of everything that Russian Federation did in the USA, hacking the DNC computer and supporting Trump against Clinton they had all this, yet did nothing!

"The actual impact of such attempts on the result itself would be hard - if not impossible - to prove".

Ms Sturgeon said: "I don't think you can draw any conclusion from the three lines the report has on the Scottish independence referendum, but I would include that in my general remarks about not being complacent about Russian interference". The British government has repeatedly said there is no evidence of successful Russian interference in Brexit.

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Brokenshire said he would not take lectures from the Labour party and said the Conservatives have a good record on national security.

The panel called for the government to appoint a commission to look into the issue and report back to the public.

Cabinet Minister Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today: "What that does is make it easier if someone is then found and they have failed to register to, for example, extradite them".

The committee said Russian influence in the UK was now "the new normal", and the UK was a "top Western intelligence target" for the state, only behind the United Nations and US. "And the public must be told the results of that assessment".

"This situation is in stark contrast to the US handling of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, where an intelligence community assessment was produced within two months of the vote, with an unclassified summary being made public".

Tobias Ellwood, the chair of parliament's Defence Select Committee, told Sky News: "We're actually now seeing the new modern battlefield in play. This is what happens - subversion, disinformation, interference in elections".

The report's release has been delayed for months, leading to accusations for the opposition that Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to suppress it.

The report, which was due to be published before the 2019 general election but faced months of delays, said there is "credible open source commentary" suggesting Russian Federation used influence campaigns during the independence referendum campaign in 2014.