Andrew Neil points out glaring weakness in Russia report

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After months of delays, the long-awaited report into Russia’s involvement in UK politics has finally been released. The report revealed Moscow did not interfere with Brexit but did meddle with the Scottish referendum in 2014.

Following suspicions Russia interfered with UK elections and referendums, an investigation by MPs and peers on the Investigation and Security Committee (ISC) was launched.

The ISC says it would be “difficult – if not impossible – to prove” allegations Russia tried to influence the Brexit vote from 2016.

But the report lashed out at the Government claiming it had failed to recognise the existence of a threat by the Kremlin.

The 50-page document said: “It is nonetheless the Committee’s view that the UK Intelligence Community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published.”

During the press conference, MP Stewart Hosie said: “The report reveals that no one in government knew if Russia interfered in or sought to influence the [Brexit] referendum because they did not want to know.”

Now BBC presenter Andrew Neil has pointed out a glaring weakness in the press conference on the Russian report.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Neil said: “The glaring weakness of this press conference on Russia report into Kremlin interference is that, when asked to give some egregious examples, it doesn’t/can’t give any, egregious or otherwise.”

The report warned the Kremlin has already breached Britain’s Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

It said: “The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has advised that there is Russian cyber intrusion into the UK’s CNI – particularly marked in the sectors.”

Although the Kremlin was not identified as having meddled with the Brexit referendum, the 18-month inquiry found Russia may have influenced the Scottish independence vote.

The ISC said: “There is credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.”

“Russia’s cyber security capability is a matter of grave concern and poses an immediate and urgent threat to national security.”

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Following the report, the Government issued a response welcoming the findings of the ISC investigation.

The Government also says Britain has made it clear to the Kremlin to improve relations is only possible if they cease attacks on the UK and allies.

It said: “The Government has made clear to the Kremlin that an improvement in relations is only possible if Russia desists from its attacks on the UK and its allies.

“Meanwhile we will be resolute in defending our country, our democracy, and our values from such Hostile State Activity.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also issued a statement into the findings: “I welcome the report and thank the former Committee for the work that has gone into this; this has clearly been an extensive effort spanning almost two years.

“This report highlights the breadth of the Committee’s oversight role and I thank them for their important work.

“I would like to thank the former Committee for their work in the last Parliament, and I look forward to working with the newly appointed Committee in the future.

Last week, Dominic Raab said the Government is “almost certain” Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election.

He said the documents relating to a possible free trade deal between the UK and US were “illicitly acquired”.

In a statement, the Foreign Secretary said: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents.

“Sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US free trade agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 general election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.

“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run-up to the general election.”

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