“It found that the intelligence agencies hadn’t even bothered to investigate what weapons Russia might have been deploying to try to disrupt Britain’s democratic processes, including the 2016 Brexit referendum.” “The Times” on the Russia Report.
The “intelligence agencies” are an arm of government – they do what the Government of the day tells them to do. In a democracy it couldn’t be otherwise. So if these agencies didn’t investigate this matter it was because government hasn’t asked them and/or authorised them to do so. The buck doesn’t stop on the desks of the top spooks – it stops on the desk in Number 10.
This is a political failure of major proportions – the evidence of the “disruption” is clearly more than circumstantial. It should have been investigated. So you have to ask why it wasn’t and frankly you can come to only one conclusion – conclusive proof of considerable Russian involvement would have been damaging to those in power.
The months after the 2016 referendum were febrile times in British politics. The establishment had been defeated and could neither work out why nor agree what to do. The majority in the political parties in the House of Commons had aligned themselves with the Prime Minister and the Government in recommending a vote for “Remain” . They had been narrowly but clearly defeated. How had it happened ?
The new Prime Minister felt that politically she had no choice but to press ahead with Brexit. The strong rumours of misbehaviour in the “Leave” campaign were unhelpful to this. To have launched an enquiry by the security services into possible electoral malpractice by “Leave” could have thrown doubt on the referendum result. It would certainty have led to uncomfortable delays for Theresa May. She was in enough trouble anyway from her impatient Hard Eurosceptic Right – the so-called “European Research Group” (ERG).
Allegations of Russian involvement in the referendum were swilling around early in May’s premiership. Leading figures in “Leave” had Russian connections – some of them were Conservative MPs or supporters. And there was the undoubted fact that the Kremlin wanted to politically disrupt Europe – what better way was there to do this than by helping facilitate for a leading EU member to depart the Union?
In 2016/17 and thereafter the drivers of “Leave” began to become clear. The campaign had been dishonest and had used sophisticated, but questionable methods to reach voters – especially on social media. And the rumours of Russian involvement weren’t going away. It was then that Theresa May should have launched a comprehensive security breach investigation , putting Brexit on hold if necessary.
The Theresa May premiership was not about the PM being under pressure from the official Opposition. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour was no threat – May wasn’t going to be brought down by hot air, and wasn’t. She comfortably won the 2017 election. And she wasn’t going to be brought down by Remainers either. No her only threat was the Hard Core Brexiteers (the ERG) in her own Party who did everything they could to frustrate May’s wish for a sensible “Withdrawal Agreement”. For May to have instigated a security services enquiry into aspects of the referendum would have been a red rag to the ERG bull and covered her in its excrement. So she didn’t do it.