Putin/Brexit fans
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Russian President Vladimir Putin • Brexit supporters
The intelligence committee's call for an urgent investigation into "potential" Russian interference in the Brexit referendum has been dismissed by ministers within one hour.

Dominic Raab rejected the demand, claiming: "A retrospective assessment of the EU referendum is not necessary." The foreign secretary's statement was issued despite the long-suppressed report arguing the security services must launch the probe - and release it in full to the public.

Boris Johnson was told it was an "outrage that no-one wanted to know if there was interference" and of not "wanting to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole." But Mr Raab said:
"We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum.

"The intelligence and security agencies produce and contribute to regular assessments of the threat posed by hostile state activity, including around potential interference in UK democratic processes.

"Where new information emerges, the government will always consider the most appropriate use of any intelligence it develops or receives, including whether it is appropriate to make this public."
However, the foreign secretary went on to insist a fresh inquiry was "not necessary" - risking a furious backlash from the committee, after it was finally allowed to speak out.

Mr Johnson will face accusations that a government dominated by Vote Leave leaders - including Dominic Cummings, his chief aide - is determined to keep Russian meddling in the referendum hidden.

Julian Lewis, chair of the intelligence and security committee, attacked the government for announcing the rejection without telling its members in advance - while refusing to make a statement to parliament.

Earlier, at a press conference, Kevan Jones, a Labour committee member, said: "The outrage is that no-one wanted to know if there was interference. And that comes through very loud and clear in our report."

And Stewart Hosie, an SNP member, said: "There has been no assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum and this goes back to nobody wanting to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole."

He added: "There must now be one, and the public must be told the results of that assessment."

But, in a tweet, Mr Raab claimed:
"We've been clear that Russia must desist from its attacks on the UK & our allies. We will be resolute in defending our country, our democracy & our values from such Hostile State Activity."
The investigation concluded last autumn - but Mr Johnson refused to agree to its publication before last December's general election and held up release for the seven months since.

It was launched after the revelation that Russia-based Twitter accounts posted more than 45,000 messages about Brexit in just 48 hours during the 2016 referendum.

Mr Jones said the prime minister's claims for suppressing the report were "categorically not true", although he swerved a question about whether he had "lied". Pointing to the swift action in the US on Russian meddling, the report says:
"An intelligence community assessment was produced within two months of the vote, with an unclassified summary being made public."