The home secretary has claimed that the Russia report is ‘out of date’ and that the situation over foreign interference has improved since it was written.
The Intelligence and Security Committee’s (ISC) report warned that successive governments ‘welcomed the oligarchs and their money with open arms’ and allowed them to forge ‘connections at the highest levels with access to UK companies and political figures’.
But in an interview with the Express days after the long-delayed report which argued the UK had ‘underestimated’ the threat posed by Moscow, Patel said the report was out-of-date and Britain had since ‘moved on’.
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She said the report was based on evidence given two years ago, and the position was now a ‘world away’ from the one set out now.
She said: ‘We’ve moved on. When it comes to our adversaries, we are much stronger than we were. I think it is really important for your readers to know that.’
Nonetheless Patel said she is working on a bill to increase tougher sanctions against spies and their states.
A former head of international terrorism intelligence at the Cabinet Office welcomed the news, saying the UK’s guard against Moscow ‘has increasingly dropped’.
Richard Kemp wrote in the Express: ‘Vitally important now are robust measures not only to defend against Russian aggression but to allow our security services to take the offensive against their depredations.’
Earlier, the UK accused Russia of launching a projectile ‘with the characteristics of a weapon’ during a satellite test, warning that it could ‘threaten the peaceful use of space’.
It marked the first time the Ministry of Defence has called out Russian activity of this sort.
The US also condemned the action, describing the event as a test of an anti-satellite weapon.