THE UK government was slow to recognise the potential threat posed by Russia to British democratic processes and did not properly consider whether Moscow could interfere in the Brexit referendum until after the event, the Intelligence and Security Committee found.
A long-delayed report on Russia’s activities concluded that the UK only belatedly realised the threat to political processes despite alarm bells ringing over the 2014 Scottish referendum.
The intelligence agencies and government departments treated the issue as a “hot potato” with no-one getting a grip on the problem, the committee said.
The government said there was “no evidence” of successful Russian interference in the Brexit vote but the committee – which oversees the work of Britain’s spies – suggested that there was no proper investigation.
MI5 provided just “six lines of text” when asked whether there was secret intelligence on the issue of potential Russian meddling in the referendum.
But the government – led by prominent Brexiteer Boris Johnson – has rejected the committee’s call for a full analysis of whether Vladimir Putin’s government did attempt to influence the result of the 2016 vote.