No successful Russian interference detected at British referendums
The British government looked away at possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum four years ago. This is stated in a report by the Committee for Intelligence and Security (ISC) of the British House of Commons. “The government has never investigated Russia’s interference and had a lack of interest in it,” one of the conclusions concluded.
The committee says it has no evidence of Russian influence. “It is difficult – if not impossible – to prove whether the Russians have intervened in the Brexit referendum and influenced the outcome.” That is why the committee calls on the government to investigate this to the bottom.
However, the government does not intend to have the intelligence services conduct a major investigation because there is “no evidence of successful influence”. The accusation that the threat from Russia has been underestimated is rejected by the government.
The report says that in recent years, security services have focused primarily on counterterrorism and less on Russian interference.
Scottish independence referendum
The report does state that there was Russian interference in the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014. The Commission also finds that the United Kingdom is one of Russia’s main targets in the West.
Because of the close relationship with the United States and because the country is seen as central to the Western ‘anti-Russia lobby’.
Russia has responded immediately, saying it never interferes in elections anywhere in the world. The Moscow Foreign Ministry speaks of “Russophobia”.
The ISC commission has also investigated Russian money flows to Britain and speaks of London as a “money laundering machine”. According to the report, London has in recent years become the ideal place for Russian Putin-linked oligarchs to store their money. They have not been put in the way.
The committee said there was no justification for delaying the publication. The prime minister had owned the report since October. In December there were elections for the House of Commons. Critics say Johnson lifted the election report to prevent bad publicity from undermining his chances of a win.
The former chairman of the committee, conservative Dominic Grieve, says he is happy that the report is now finally public. But that sentiment is undermined by “a sense of frustration and outright anger at how the government behaved,” he added.