UK foreign minister: Russia may try to interfere in election

LONDON • There is a "realistic possibility" that Russia might try to interfere in Britain's general election next month, says its Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The Conservative politician told The Telegraph newspaper in an interview published yesterday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would "rejoice" if the opposition Labour Party under Mr Jeremy Corbyn won the June 8 election.

Referring to Mr Putin, Mr Johnson said: "Clearly we think that is what he did in America, it's blatantly obvious that's what he did in France (where incoming president Emmanuel Macron's e-mails were hacked), in the western Balkans he is up to all sorts of sordid enterprises, so we have to be vigilant."

He said Mr Putin wanted "to undermine faith in democracy altogether and to discredit the whole democratic process".

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Britain's health system was subjected to a major cyber attack last Friday.

Mr Johnson also told The Telegraph that rather than Britain having to pay a divorce bill for leaving the European Union, the EU could end up having to pay Britain because it had contributed to so many EU assets.

"They are going to try to bleed this country white with their bill," he said.

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that the EU might seek an upfront payment in 2019 of up to €100 billion (S$153 billion). That sum was immediately rejected by British ministers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'UK foreign minister: Russia may try to interfere in election'. Print Edition | Subscribe