Grant Shapps seeks to discredit Russia report because it was written by Remainer Dominic Grieve
Senior Cabinet minister Grants Shapps has sought to discredit some aspects of the Russia report because it was written by an ardent Remainer with "specific" views on the outcome of the Brexit referendum.
The long-awaited Russia report - which was delayed for several months - condemned the government on numerous fronts regarding the threat of interference, but the most damning criticism was that the government had "let down" the public by "actively" avoiding an investigation into meddling in the EU referendum in 2016.
The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) - the body which wrote the report - said there was "credible" evidence showing Russia had attempted to interfere in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, but said there was no evidence of meddling in the Brexit vote because “no one” in government “sought to look or ask the question that needed to be asked”.
Many on the Leave side said the lack of evidence proved the vote was won legitimately, but Remainers, including Alastair Campbell, have said it proves Brexit "is a fraud".
Transport Secretary Shapps has attempted to rubbish the claims of Remainers, saying "let's not forget this report was written in a specific context by not the current chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee but by former chair Dominic Grieve".
Russia report: Government 'underestimated' threat and 'clearly let us down' by not probing Brexit meddling
New powers promised to help UK spies tackle hostile states in wake of damning Russia report
Mr Grieve, who quit the Tory party last year over Brexit, was one of the Remain side's most passionate supporters in Parliament, and Mr Shapps appeared to suggest his pro-EU stance made him biased.
Mr Shapps says Mr Grieve "had some, what in the end turned out to be quite - I don't want to use the word extreme in the wrong way but - specific views about all manor of issues, including the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum".
"When you read the report you can see it's been written in that context," he said.
Mr Shapps denied the ISC allegation that the government had been ignoring the Russian threat, "not for one moment," he said.
"Where action needs to be taken, it is taken," he said, "our intelligence and security agencies are amongst, if not the best in the world and they have not taken their eye off the ball."
He admitted "there is more though that we can always and should always be doing as a country".
He said the government welcomes the report's publication and is "looking at powers that can be used to help as the nature and shape of this threat changes to challenge what's been happening with Russia and others".
It is understood Prime Minister Boris Johnson will strengthen counter-espionage laws in the wake of the bombshell study by the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
Ministers are considering a US-style law requiring people working on behalf of foreign states to formally register their activities.
The move comes with Labour poised to go on the offensive on the issue on Wednesday at Prime Minister's Questions - Parliament's final sitting day before the summer recess.
Mr Shapps confirmed the government was looking at introducing new legislation to tackle the activities of "hostile states".
"We want to be able to look at the activities, clamp down on the activities of hostile states which threaten the UK," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
The government has already committed to introduce legislation to provide the security services and law enforcement agencies with "the tools they need" to disrupt hostile action.