UK PM Johnson accused of delaying Russian report

UK PM Johnson accused of delaying Russian report

Populist UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to release a report assessing the threat from Russia to British democracy. 

A sacked Conservative MP, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, said the dossier’s release was vital ahead of the December 12 general election. 

Grieve, who chairs the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, has accused the prime minister of sitting on the probe. 

The dossier by Grieve’s committee includes evidence from UK intelligence of Russian attempts to manipulate the 2016 European referendum and 2017 general election.

The process for clearing it on security grounds was completed in mid-October, but Johnson’s team has had it since for approval for the final release.

Grieve said the usual 10-day wait for release had passed and if it is not published before parliament dissolves tomorrow (Tuesday) it will not be published at all.

Grieve, who sits as the independent MP for Beaconsfield after expulsion from the Conservative Party, told the BBC: “I cannot think of a reason why he should wish to prevent this report being published.

“It’s very demoralising for us when we find we put in months of work and at the end of it we’re not getting an adequate response.”

Johnson had been expected to approve publication of the 50-page report last Thursday. His failure to do so sparked speculation that it could potentially be damaging to Johnson.

Grieve said: “It seems to us that this report is germane because we do know – and I think it is widely accepted – that the Russians have sought to interfere in other countries’ democratic processes in the past.”

He said the committee had been studying external threats and “in this case concentrating on Russia because of recent events showing Russia is undoubtedly a threat”.

Grieve said it must be released before parliament was dissolved on Tuesday or it may never be published. 

The report purportedly says Russian money flowed into British politics as a whole and especially to the Conservative Party. It also reportedly claims the Kremlin launched a large influence campaign in support of the 2016 leave campaign.

Far-right business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said there was nothing unusual about the failure to publish the dossier. She told the BBC: “I wouldn’t accept that it’s been held up. I don’t think there’s anything unusual about this. Many select committee reports are produced and the government has to respond properly. It cannot respond in haste.”

The outgoing Speaker John Bercow asked the Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, to deliver the report so it would not be necessary for Grieve to ask again.

 

 

Anti-Brexit campaigners repeatedly point to Russian interference in the 2016 referendum. Picture credit: Eurasia Times 

 

 

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