The long-awaited Russia Report has been released – and the investigation found an alarming failure by the Government to conduct any proper assessment of the Kremlin’s interference in both the Scottish independence and Brexit referendums.
The damning indictment is contained within the 50-page document from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). The report was initially completed last October, but the Prime Minister took the extraordinary decision to block the publication only declassifying and clearing for release by Number 10 in December 2019.
It could not be distributed further until the Government had nominated Conservative members to the committee. The ISC, which is tasked with scrutinising the work of the UK’s intelligence services, has not been convened since December 2019 after it was dissolved for the General Election. The surprise defeat of Chris Grayling MP to Tory Backbencher Dr Julian Lewis MP for the chairmanship enabled the release of the report.
The report said the Government was too slow to recognise the potential threat to the British democratic process and did not properly consider whether Moscow could interfere in the 2016 Brexit referendum until after the vote.
“In brief, Russian influence in the UK is the new normal” the document states.
Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said:
“The Russia report exposes deep, long-standing failings in this Government’s approach to national security. Instead of acting quickly and decisively, the Prime Minister delayed this report for over ten months.
The Report is unequivocal that the Government “badly underestimated the Russian threat”, took its “eye off the ball” and is still “playing catch up”. It is also clear from the report that Moscow is undermining our democracy by leading a campaign of disinformation.
It is obvious that the Government has underestimated the response required to Russia, and it is urgent we learn the lessons from the mistakes that have been made.”