Emily Maitlis shuts down Brexiteer who blamed media for questions about Russian interference

PUBLISHED: 11:44 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:29 22 July 2020

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight. Photograph: BBC

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight. Photograph: BBC

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Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has rebuked a Brexiteer who tried to blame the media for raising questions about allegations of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum.

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Tory MP Robert Seely MP, who chairs the foreign affairs committee, said it was the media that was “rehashing the stale debate” about the 2016 referendum, and said there was no point “looking over the past” now that the UK has left the EU.

“On the debate about Brexit, I can understand why the media is going for this, but I do think this is rehashing a rather stale debate about Brexit,” he told the programme.

But the comments sparked a rebuke from Maitlis, who told him that it was MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee [ISC] that had raised the questions.

She told him: “Hang on a second … the media is not having that debate – you heard it raised by the ISC, who called for an inquiry to be opened.”


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She continued: “[The media] are looking at the calls from the committee – and the reason we’re looking at it because there was absolutely no curiosity on the part of your government and successive governments to actually find out what went on.”

MPs said in the report that the ISC “did not want to know” if there had been Russian interference, and said that they had “actively avoided looking for evidence”.

It led to the Tory Brexiteer accepting that “lack of protection in the Scottish referendum and the lack of protection and care in the Brexit referendum were both wrong”.

But he went on to say that the government should look at the present “rather than going back and looking over the past”.

“We’ve left the European Union. We can go back and have a look at whether something happened, and I’m not opposed to that – I just think there are far more serious things now, actively, that we should be considering.”

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