Russia and other countries are trying to “exploit” the coronavirus crisis, the UK’s foreign secretary has told Sky News.
Dominic Raab said hostile governments are using the challenges thrown up by a global pandemic to take advantage of a “a perceived opportunity”.
But he denied their actions have had a substantial impact, adding: “I don’t think they’ve made a material difference to our response in health terms.”
Speaking to Kay [email protected], Mr Raab pointed to China‘s bid to enforce its national security law on a former British colony.
“I think we’ve seen it in relation to Hong Kong,” he said on Thursday.
“I think some people are arguing – it’s difficult to glean whether it’s true or not – that this is something – the national security legislation that’s being put forwards – [that] is being done at a time when the world’s attention is on coronavirus.”
He also shed a brief glimmer of light on a report by the UK’s intelligence and security committee on Russian interference in UK elections.
The committee’s last chair said they gave it to Downing Street for clearance on 17 October – but it still remains unpublished.
Mr Raab revealed while he has “not personally read all the detail of it” there is “nothing that gives me reason to believe there was any material impact” on election outcomes.
And he talked down a report in the Financial Times that the Foreign Office has set its sights on a takeover of the Department for International Trade, after this week’s announcement of a Whitehall shakeup.
“That’s not true – there’s no question of eyeing anything up,” he said.
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