The UK plan to root out spies and traitors

The UK plan to root out spies and traitors

  • Move to overhaul UK anti-espionage laws follows report about Russian influence in British politics
  • British MP and analysts say Chinese entities are also a UK security concern

The UK aims to expedite new treason and espionage laws amid mounting concern London’s boardrooms and the halls of Westminster are crawling with paid lobbyists and spies for Russia and China.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to overhaul Britain’s anti-espionage laws as part of his 2019 election campaign. The publication last week of a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into Russian interference in UK politics has injected urgency into that task.

The Russia Report was meant address suspicions of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum – which it failed to prove – but ended up detailing how wealthy Russians had become an integral part of the British political elite.

Analysts say legislation being drafted would likely include disclosure rules for British lobbyists of foreign powers and foreign intelligence agents in the UK, a tightening up of the 100-year-old Official Secrets Act and an overhaul of the country’s treason laws, whhich have remained more or less the same for three centuries.

The UK government hopes to push though new laws when Parliament convenes in the autumn.