"The PM refusing to scrutinise Russian influence on Brexit is a dereliction of duty"

21 July 2020, 17:43

By Fiona Jones

It is a "dereliction of duty" that the Government refuses to scrutinise Russian influence on the EU referendum result, says former Chair of the Parliamentary Group on Russia, urging for more robust efforts to tackle the "corruption."

Russia poses a ‘significant threat to the UK’ on multiple fronts including espionage, interference in democracy and serious crime, according to the long-awaited 'Russia Report' that was released today.

The Intelligence and Security Committee report states: "It is clear that Russia currently poses a significant threat to the UK on a number of fronts – from espionage to interference in democratic processes, and to serious crime."

Former Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Russia Chris Bryant told LBC the UK has "clearly been a target for quite some time" especially during the EU referendum, branding it a "dereliction of duty" the Government refuses to scrutinise Russian influence on the Brexit result.

The UK allows golden visas whereby if someone states they want to invest £2 million in the country they can enter - however very little money is made in Russia without Putin's approval which means "lots and lots of dirty money" is entering the economy, Mr Byrant said.

He continued: "It is an established fact and not contested fact that successive British Conservative Prime Ministers have taken money directly from extremely wealthy Russians who are now based here in the UK.

The Government refusing to scrutinise Russian influence over Brexit is a "dereliction of duty", Mr Byrant tells LBC
The Government refusing to scrutinise Russian influence over Brexit is a "dereliction of duty", Mr Byrant tells LBC. Picture: PA/LBC

Some of whom have pretty dodgy pasts and present, I would argue. One of them has given £1.3 million to the Conservative Party."

Mr Byrant said those oligarchs having lunch with MPs would largely be doing Vladimir Putin's bidding with "very few exceptions" and in the city, there are legal firms that are "effectively helping launder money."

While he said the UK's response to Russian infiltration is "moving in the right direction", he would like to see much more robust efforts to tackle the "financial corruption" that he believes is still occurring in the city of London.

He explained to Shelagh that the aims of the Russian Government are to wedge issues into British democracy and try and break off Scotland from the rest of the UK "because it wants to undermine the way we do our business."

Mr Bryant claimed he himself was a victim of Russia after he was ousted from his Chairmanship for being vocally against Russian leader Vladimir Putin - while people barely come to support movements passed on behalf of this parliamentary group, he said "hundreds of Conservative MPs turned up" to vote him out - many have since apologised.

"I remember when Boris Johnson was foreign secretary he went to Russia and he treated it all as a joke...and of course weeks later was the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury," he said, telling Shelagh that when he asks top politicians if there has ever been a Russian attack on UK democracy they say "there has never been a successful instances."

He pointed out, "Who knows if there have been successful instances or not? Who judges that?"