BORIS JOHNSON has dismissed concern about Russian interference in British politics as sour grapes from Remainers still angry over Brexit.
The PM was accused by Sir Keir Starmer of ignoring the ‘immediate and urgent threat’ to national security from Russia and trying to silence the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which raised the alarm in a long-awaited report on Tuesday.
During prime minister’s questions, Mr Johnson (pictured) accused the Labour leader of ‘sitting on his hands’ after the Salisbury attack of 2018 when ‘people in this country were poisoned on the orders of Vladimir Putin’.
‘This is about pressure from the Islingtonian Remainers who have seized on this report to give the impression that Russian interference was somehow responsible for Brexit,’ he added.
Sir Keir responded by saying he had spoken out at the time of the Salisbury attack. He later tweeted: ‘I spent five years as director of public prosecutions working on live operations with the security intelligence services. I’m not going to take lectures from a PM, who sat on an Intelligence and Security Committee report for ten months, on national security.’
The government has rejected the IRC’s claim that it ‘badly underestimated the Russian threat’, ignored evidence of interference with the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ to focus on terrorist threats.
‘They were not even on the pitch,’ Sir Keir said.
The PM insisted ‘no country was more vigilant’ against Russian interference.
Meanwhile, plans were detailed for a US-style ‘spy register’ to outlaw secret work on behalf of foreign governments.