UK denies it's delaying release of report into Russia's alleged Brexit interference

  06 November 2019    Read: 1044
UK denies it

The British Government has rejected charges of suppressing a potentially explosive report into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum until after Britain's general election next month.

The controversial, 50-page dossier by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has security service clearance, but is yet to be approved by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office and so will not be published before the December 12 election.

Mr Johnson's minority Government could be voted out of office if it fails to win an all-out majority.

When asked if the Government was sitting on the report, senior cabinet minister Michael Gove told the BBC: "Absolutely not.

"It's always the case with select committee reports, particularly when they deal with sensitive issues, that there is a process through which they have to go before they are published and a response is issued.

Politicians in both houses of Parliament had raised concern over the timing of the now-completed study's release.

Mr Johnson's Conservatives are keen to avoid any suggestion Britain's divorce from the European Union was triggered unfairly. The pro-Brexit campaign defied most pollsters to win by 52 to 48 per cent — an outcome that left the country deeply split.

The Opposition Labour Party is ready to let Britons vote again on whether to leave the EU if it regains power for the first time since 2010, while some of the smaller opposition parties simply want Brexit stopped.

Dominic Grieve, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, has said there is no legitimate reason for delaying the publication of the report.

Mr Grieve — an independent who quit the Conservatives over Brexit — called the Government's apparent foot dragging "jaw-dropping".

"We continue to be very disappointed by the failure of the Government to publish this report and to provide any explanation as to why it should not be published," Mr Grieve told the BBC.

"Explanations currently advanced, that the timings are too short, are entirely disingenuous and grossly misleading." House of Lords member Donald Anderson, also an independent, warned the "unjustified delay undermines" the committee's work.

"It invites suspicion of the Government and its motives," Mr Anderson said. "What's the Prime Minister got to hide?" Labour House of Lords member Dianne Hayter asked.

The so-called Steele Dossier figured prominently in the initial stages of the scandal surrounding what US intelligence agencies determined was Russian interference in US President Donald Trump's 2016 election.


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