There must be an organized effort to prevent Russia from disrupting and distorting politics, warned former MI6 officer Christopher Steele.
Mr Steele was behind the so-called Trump-Russia dossier, which alleged a collusion between Moscow and the US president’s 2016 election campaign.
In an interview with Tory MP Damian Collins, he warned that Russia was targeting all political parties.
He added that the UK had been “behind the curve” to deter Russian activity.
Speaking on Mr Collins’ podcast Infotagion, Mr Steele said political parties in the UK are being targeted, whether through donations or cyber hacking, and need to proactively approach them. security services for assistance.
Mr. Steele argued that Moscow’s goal was “to create great polarity, great partisanship and divisions in political life, like we have not seen before in democracies”.
He said the Kremlin was looking to break consensus and take political debate to extremes, citing Brexit as an example.
Former MI6 officer Mr Steele testified as part of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s investigation into Russia, which released its report last month.
The report criticized the security services for failing to investigate whether the Kremlin had interfered with Brexit and other areas of politics in recent years.
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Mr Steele said security officials disliked getting into very sensitive politically sensitive areas and that he had told senior politicians on all sides that they had to be proactive in approaching MI5 and MI6.
He argued that the lax regulation of Russian money entering the UK had “bled” into politics, with parties being targeted either through donations or hacking.
“It has to be an organized counter-effort to make sure it doesn’t distort and disrupt our political life,” he said.
This week it emerged that documents on the UK-US trade talks, leaked ahead of the 2019 election, had been stolen from Tory MP Liam Fox’s personal email account.
The articles were posted online and used by Labor as part of the 2019 campaign to claim the NHS would be in jeopardy.
The British government said the Russians were almost certainly seeking to interfere in the elections through documents.
Moscow has denied any role in this and other acts of political interference.
Questions have also been raised about funds donated to the Conservative Party by people with ties to Russia, but who are now British citizens and deny any wrongdoing.
Ministers are considering strengthening security laws to require foreign agents to register in the UK in the future. Mr Steele said he supported such an initiative, but that it needed to be carefully framed for it to be effective.
Overall, the UK has been slow to respond, he said.
“There are huge vulnerabilities created by democracy and by modern technology and we are not catching up quickly enough how our adversaries are able and willing to exploit these things without really strong retaliation and deterrence.” did he declare.
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Mr. Steele, who left MI6 in 2009 and started a private business intelligence company called Orbis, is best known for his role in the so-called Trump-Russia case, released in January 2016.
He alleged collusion between Mr. Trump’s election campaign and Russia and became the subject of intense political battles, with the U.S. president tweeting that he wanted Mr. Steele’s extradition.
Some of the allegations in the case have been disputed and Mr Steele did not discuss them in detail in the podcast interview as a lawsuit is pending.
He said, however, that he expected more interference in the 2020 US election with some foreign governments concerned about Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victory in November.
“We are on the defensive,” Steele argued, adding that the West is weaker than at any time since the end of the Cold War.