PM Johnson says Britain was not influenced by Russia in Brexit vote

By Elizabeth Piper LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected on Wednesday any suggestion that Britain's vote to leave the European Union had been influenced by Russian interference. A day after a report by parliament's intelligence and security committee said the government had failed to try to find out whether Russia had meddled in the Brexit vote, Johnson's government doubled down on its refusal to launch a review.

Reuters July 23, 2020 00:12:10 IST
PM Johnson says Britain was not influenced by Russia in Brexit vote

PM Johnson says Britain was not influenced by Russia in Brexit vote

By Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected on Wednesday any suggestion that Britain's vote to leave the European Union had been influenced by Russian interference.

A day after a report by parliament's intelligence and security committee said the government had failed to try to find out whether Russia had meddled in the Brexit vote, Johnson's government doubled down on its refusal to launch a review.

Instead, the government said it had taken measures since the review, which was completed in March last year, and would bring forward legislation to counter "hostile state activity" to deal more effectively with the espionage threat.

"The people of this country didn't vote to leave the EU because of pressure from Russia or Russian interference - they voted because they wanted to take back control," Johnson told parliament, describing the criticism as being led by those lawmakers who voted to stay in the EU at the 2016 referendum.

"It is the UK that leads the world in caution about Russian interference," said the prime minister, who was a leading figure in the "leave" campaign.

A spokesman for Labour leader Keir Starmer said the main opposition party had deep concerns about a "lack of seriousness" in the prime minister's response, criticising him for delaying the publication of the report for more than a year.

The report, published on Tuesday, cast Russia as a hostile power posing significant threat to Britain and the West across a range of fronts, and called for the intelligence services to probe possible Russian interference in Brexit.

The government rejected any criticism and has said there was no need for a further review.

"We categorically reject any suggestion that the UK actively avoided investigating Russia," James Brokenshire, a security minister, told parliament.

"We are unafraid to act wherever necessary to protect the UK and our allies from any state threat."

A spokesman for Johnson said the government would be bringing forward legislation "to counter hostile state activity" in what the prime minister had described as an espionage act.

"It's purpose will be to modernise existing offences to deal more effectively with the espionage threat and to also look at what new offences and powers are needed," he told reporters.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Paul Sandle; Editing by Stephen Addison and Alex Richardson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.