SNP on alert as Russia could ‘meddle’ in Scottish independence referendum – new warning

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Stewart McDonald, the party’s defence spokesperson, claimed that during the 2014 vote, there were attempts by Moscow “to sow doubt about the result post-the-vote … immediately as votes were still being counted”. Because of this, the SNP MP, who sits on the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee fears Moscow could target IndyRef2.

The Nat claims Moscow could hijack the Scottish independence campaign to further its own interests.

This could be achieved by spreading disinformation to stoke division in Scottish society.

Mr McDonald said: “What an amazing opportunity if you’re Russia – or just anyone who wants to cause as much havoc as possible – to sow disinformation.”

He added: “It’s entirely reasonable to assume any future referendum will be a target”.

He stressed the SNP had a “real duty to be upfront about that”.

Mr McDonald has now called for a change of the UK’s national security strategy so countering disinformation sits at the heart of Britain’s defence.

The SNP politician wants to involve all parts of the UK Government in preventing disinformation.

The calls come following the publication of a 2020 House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee report which cited “credible” commentary that the Putin regime tried to influence the 2014 vote.

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The report also highlighted that theories about “irregularities in the conduct of the vote” were “widely pushed by Russian state media” but the report said the Government “viewed this as being primarily aimed at discrediting the UK in the eyes of domestic Russian audience”.

It was heavily redacted however due to fears Moscow could use evidence in it to threaten the UK.

More widely, the report described the UK as one of Russia’s “top targets” as it was “seen as central to the Western anti-Russian lobby”.

Intelligence analysts have previously suggested the Kremlin believed encouraging the break-up of the UK and any disruption this might cause could further its own interests.

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MPs are also piling on the pressure for an official inquiry to be staged into alleged Russian interference in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

But both Downing Street and the Scottish Government have ruled this out.

Moscow has however long dismissed suggestions of interference in British politics.

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