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World

UK PM clears way for Brexit 'Russian meddling' report

  • The committee finished the 50-page report in March last year.
  • The report was cleared by the intelligence agencies in October.
Published July 9, 2020

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson cleared the way Thursday for a long-awaited parliamentary report into alleged Russian interference in British politics to be published "as soon as possible".

A government spokesman said parliament's intelligence and security committee (ISC) will be re-formed next week, and will then be free to publish its findings into concerns about disinformation and meddling in the 2016 Brexit vote.

The committee finished the 50-page report in March last year and the report was cleared by the intelligence agencies in October.

But Johnson failed to authorise its publication before the committee was disbanded ahead of the December general election, and it was then delayed until the committee was restored.

The nominations for the new committee members are expected to be published later Thursday and put to a vote by lawmakers next Monday and Tuesday. The new members will then elect their own chairman.

Committee members have to be approved by the PM.

Johnson's spokesman said publication of the Russia report "will be a matter for the new committee but we would encourage them to publish it as soon as possible".

The ISC launched the investigation in November 2017, in response to concerns about attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 US presidential election and fears of meddling in Britain's referendum vote the same year to leave the European Union.

Then prime minister Theresa May had accused Russia of "planting fake stories" to "sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions".

The 2018 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury, which London and its Western allies blamed on Moscow, only added to the ISC's concerns.

Former ISC chairman Dominic Grieve had accused Johnson of deliberately delaying the report until after the election -- something Downing Street denies.

Politicians in the main opposition Labour party have alleged the report could contain evidence of links between Johnson's Conservative party and Russian billionaires.

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