Ministers plan to strengthen security laws after a report by MPs said the UK had “gravely underestimated” the threat of foreign interference, including the subversion of Russia.
A new law requiring foreign agents to register in the UK is reportedly under consideration by No.10.
But the BBC’s Chris Mason said there were currently “no firm proposals”.
It comes as the Labor Party has criticized the “systemic failures” in the way the UK has treated Russia and other “hostile states”.
As the government prepares to face questions in the Commons later, Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the “growing threat” from Russia cannot be ignored.
He added that the government had not offered the British security services “the strategic support, the legislative tools or the resources necessary” to defend the interests of the country.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday: “We have made it clear that Russia must desist from its attacks on the UK and our allies.
“We will be determined to defend our country, our democracy and our values against such hostile state activity. ”
The government is facing calls to do much more to combat Russian espionage and subversion after the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee said the UK was the main target after the US and the ‘NATO.
In a 50-page report, the committee said the UK was “clearly a target” for disinformation campaigns around its election, but the problem was described as a “hot potato” with no organization taking the lead. initiative to tackle it.
The new law under consideration could mirror the committee’s suggested new “espionage law”, which would explicitly make it illegal to be a spy in the UK, BBC political correspondent Chris Mason reported.
Such a law would oblige those representing the interests of foreign powers to register upon arrival in the UK. Those who did not – and therefore operate in secret – would be breaking the law.
A Times newspaper report said any new legislation would aim to make the UK a “harder environment for adversaries” and could be modeled on similar laws in the US and Australia.
If you don’t look, you can’t find.
Whether deliberate or flawed, the highly anticipated Intelligence and Security Committee report describes gaping loopholes in the UK’s handling of the threat from Russia.
For years, it seems that a lack of priority, and a lack of curiosity, has allowed risks to go unchecked or even go unchecked.
The British government has now hardened its attitude towards Putin’s Russia.
Read Laura’s full blog
The deputies’ report claimed that the government had made no effort to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the EU referendum and criticized intelligence agencies for not paying more attention to the question.
And he said the government “only belatedly realized the level of threat Russia could pose” after the so-called “hack and flight” operation against Democrats in the 2016 US election, calling it a “changer.” of play ”.
“Tools and Resources”
The Labor Party will later use an urgent question in Parliament to highlight what it says are multiple ‘loopholes’ in UK national security policy revealed by the report.
Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “At all levels, the government’s response does not appear to be up to the threat.
“The UK has some of the world’s leading security services, but this report makes it clear that they have not received the strategic support, legislative tools or resources to defend our interests.
“The government urgently needs to explain how it will address these systemic failures. “
Amid mounting tensions with China, he said the report “should also sound the alarm to sound the alarm that other countries that want the UK to hurt itself are doing similar activities and not facing a sufficiently solid response ”.
The government rejected the committee’s call for a full assessment by intelligence agencies of Russia’s potential interference in the 2016 European referendum, saying it had “seen no evidence of successful interference” .
Mr. Raab “categorically rejected” claims by ISC member SNP MP Stewart Hosie that the government “actively avoided” seeking evidence of Russian interference.
Downing Street has been accused of withholding the report ahead of Britain’s December election and delaying his nominations to set up the new committee – both claim he denied.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the report “Russophobia”.