UK ‘Almost Certain’ Russia Sought to Interfere in 2019 Election

July 16, 2020 Updated: July 17, 2020

Britain is “almost certain” Russia sought to interfere in the 2019 UK General Election by spreading leaked documents, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

“On the basis of extensive analysis, the Government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 General Election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents,” he said in a statement.

British intelligence agencies have been investigating a leak of documents pertaining to Britain’s Free Trade Agreement with the United States ahead of the General Election in 2019.

“Sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 General Election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit,” Raab stated.

The 451-page dossier of official emails was subsequently used by the Labour Party in the election campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry meet after both retaining their Parliamentary seats following the count at Sobell leisure centre in London on Dec. 13, 2019. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader at the time, said the dossier showed that the National Health Service (NHS) “was on the table” in trade talks with the United States.

“Whilst there is no evidence of a broad spectrum Russian campaign against the General Election, any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable,” Raab said in the statement.

There’s an ongoing criminal investigation, and the government “reserves the right to respond with appropriate measures in the future,” he said.

The UK also joined the United States and Canada on July 16 in accusing Russia of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a vaccine for the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

In response to reports of Russian hackers targeting UK vaccine researchers, the Labour Party stated, “The reported actions of the Russian Intelligence Services are wrong and should be condemned.”

“The Labour Party is committed to working with the government to protect the UK’s national security and safeguard our institutions from foreign interference—none more so than those leading the international effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, in a statement.

Russia has denounced Raab’s accusation as “vague and contradictory” and has urged the UK to “produce facts” supporting the allegations.

“On the one hand, there is no proof; on the other, some possible retaliatory measures are mentioned,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at her weekly media briefing. “These are mutually exclusive things.”

A long-delayed report into Russian influence in UK politics is to be published before Parliament breaks up for the summer on July 22, the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee announced on July 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.