Boris Johnson denies he 'sat on' the Russia Report for ten months

22 July 2020, 12:53

The Prime Minister hit back at the Labour leader's claims
The Prime Minister hit back at the Labour leader's claims. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has denied he "sat on" the Russia Report and claimed he had taken "the strongest possible action" against Russia.

The comments come after a report by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) on Russia's activities in the UK was released after months of delay.

The long-delayed report by the influential ISC insisted London was too slow to recognise Moscow's menace to British democratic processes.

At Prime Minister's Questions after the report was released Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked the Prime Minister why he "sat on" the Intelligence and Security Committee's report into Russian interference in UK politics for 10 months.

He asked Boris Johnson: "I want to ask the Prime Minister about the extremely serious report by the Intelligence and Security Committee.

"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.

"The Prime Minister received that report 10 months ago. Given that the threat is described as immediate and urgent why on earth did the Prime Minister sit on that report for so long?"

Responding to Sir Keir, Boris Johnson told the Commons when he was foreign secretary he took "the strongest possible action" against Russia.

During PMQs he added: "The right honourable gentleman opposite (Sir Keir Starmer) sat on his hands and said nothing while the Labour Party parroted the line of the Kremlin when people in this country were poisoned at the orders of Vladimir Putin."

Sir Keir replied: "I stood up and condemned what happened in Salisbury and... I supported then-prime minister (Theresa May) on record, so I'd ask the Prime Minister to check the record."

British intelligence services did not take "their eye off the ball" over the security threat posed by Russia, the Transport Secretary has said.

Appearing on Sky News, Grant Shapps was questioned about the publication of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russia on Tuesday, which took a critical look at the British intelligence community.

Mr Shapps said: "It's obviously right that we're always reminded that the threat is there and it's very real, but I don't think it's the case that the intelligence services took their eye off the ball."

He also said the report had not contained "any evidence" of Russian interference in the EU referendum in 2016.

"The report didn't reveal that," Mr Shapps said.