Report into Russian influence in UK moves a step closer to release

The long-delayed report into Russian infiltration in the UK could be published next week now that parliament’s intelligence and security committee is being set up, its most senior Labour member told MPs on Monday night.

Kevan Jones said “there was no reason why” the document could not be published “before parliament goes into recess” – nine months after its release was blocked by Boris Johnson ahead of the general election. The report was sent to Downing Street in October.

“I’d like to see that report published at the earliest, possibly next week,” added the Labour backbencher, one of only two committee members who wrote the analysis of Kremlin interference in British politics.

Downing Street wants Chris Grayling, the former transport and justice secretary, to chair the committee and last week put him forward for the body alongside four other Conservative MPs who are expected to endorse him within days.

It will be up to the Tory-dominated committee to decide whether to finally release the report as written and cleared by the intelligence agencies and belatedly by Downing Street. Its members could also withhold the document or rewrite it.

Grayling himself remained largely silent during a short Commons debate held at around 9pm on Monday to agree the names of MPs who would sit on the body, speaking only to praise the previous chair, Dominic Grieve, who lost his seat at the last election.

Others complained at the length of time it had taken to set up the committee after the election, the longest since the body was established in the mid-1990s to oversee the work of Britain’s intelligence agencies.

Wera Hobhouse, a Liberal Democrat MP, said it had taken the government “nine days before the summer recess to act” and said it was wrong for Downing Street to try to foist Grayling on to the committee as chair.

“That says a lot about how the government sees the role of parliament. The role of chair is a matter as a committee to decide,” she added.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, defended the time taken to put Grayling’s and the other names forward. “I would say that a committee of this importance needs to have the right people on it,” the Conservative declared.

The Guardian

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