The release of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian interference in the UK has sparked concerns over the extent of the influence. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was grilled over specific meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum. BBC Today host Martha Kearney cited research by Swansea University that identified more than 150,000 Russian accounts that tweeted about Brexit ahead of the vote.
The report also said the Government had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes.
Mr Shapps said: “This report was written under the previous chair of the committee, Dominic Grieve, and written under the context of the 2016 EU referendum.
“I see intelligence every week, as do other cabinet members.
“So the idea that there’s somehow not a very proactive stance taken by intelligence and security agencies into all manner, whether cyber or physical, isn’t true to life.”
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He continued: “People are free on social media to write what they like.
“We haven’t seen any evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum.”
Mr Shapps denied the suggestion that this was because the Government hadn’t ordered an investigation into it.
The minister claimed that issues like this were what the intelligence, defence and securirty organisations spend “every day of their life doing”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the report “Russophobia”.
The Government say they have been”fully aware of the significant and enduring threat” that Russia poses.
They have also accused Russian hackers of online attempts to steal information on the UK’s coronavirus vaccine.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claimed that there was evidence that the documents on UK-US trade discussions that were used by Labour in the 2019 general election campaign had been brought to the party’s attention by Russia.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy admitted to Sky News that her party under former leader Jeremy Corbyn had failed on their policy towards Russia.