Boris Johnson claims Labour using Russia report as ‘Islingtonian Remainer plot to undermine’ Brexit

Prime minister dismisses damning accusation that his government was asleep at the wheel in countering the Kremlin threat as ‘absolutely absurd’

Boris Johnson claims Labour using Russia report as 'Islingtonian Remainer plot to undermine' Brexit

The Russia report controversy is a Remainer plot to “undermine” the Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson has claimed.

In fierce Commons clashes, the prime minister dismissed accusations that his government was asleep at the wheel in countering the Kremlin threat as “absolutely absurd”.

Instead, he turned on Sir Keir Starmer, claiming: “These criticisms are motivated by a desire to undermine the referendum on the European Union that took place in 2016.”

He urged MPs to recognise what the damning study – by the independent Intelligence and Security Committee – was “all about”.

That was “pressure from Islingtonian Remainers who have seized on this report to try to give the impression that Russian interference was somehow responsible for Brexit”.

Later, the prime minister condemned “the rage and fury of the Remainer elite finding there is, in fact, nothing in this report”.

“No smoking gun whatsoever, after all that froth and fury,” he alleged, adding: “They should simply move on.”

Mr Johnson was confronted after throwing out the recommendations of the long-suppressed report, which warned Russian interference is “the new normal”.

Security experts, campaigners and politicians united in criticism after the findings – including of “potential” interference in the Brexit referendum – were dismissed within hours.

The government refused to hold an investigation into the 2016 vote, while also rejecting warnings of dirty Russian money and power infiltrating the “London laundromat” and the House of Lords.

Sir Keir demanded to know why he “sat on” the committee’s report into Russian interference in UK politics for 10 months, refusing to allow its release.

“It concludes that Russia poses an immediate and urgent threat to our national security and is engaged in a range of activities that includes espionage, interfering in democratic processes and serious crime,” he said.

The Labour leader demanded action against “Kremlin-backed disinformation” and for the prime minister to “look again” at the licensing for broadcaster RT, formerly Russia Today, to operate in the UK.

Sir Keir also attacked delays in bringing forward new security legislation, but Mr Johnson insisted new laws were coming on espionage, theft of intellectual property and sanctions.

And he claimed: “There’s no other government in the world that takes more robust steps to protect our democracy, to protect our critical national infrastructure and to protect our intellectual property from interference by Russia or by anybody else.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in