London — British lawmakers released the findings a long-delayed and much anticipated report into Russian interference in UK politics on Tuesday. The report from the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee did not produce a smoking gun, because, the committee said, nobody looked for one.
The report found that Russian interference in Western politics was the new normal, but that the U.K. government only started to really consider the threat after Moscow'sin Washington became public.
Still, the report was kept under wraps by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government for almost a year — until the committee outmaneuvered him to release it on Tuesday.
The government feared, it was assumed, that details of Russian interference could potentially cast doubt on the legitimacy of the referendum vote with which the British people called for the.
As it turned out, there's wasn't enough detail in the report to directly pin any blame on the Russian government, and Johnson's government has already rejected the idea of an investigation.
The report said Russian interference in British democracy was a "hot potato" issue that none of the country's security services wanted to touch, "with a ten foot pole."
Those security services, it said, have been conditioned to stay out of domestic politics, and no one in the government told them to investigate. As for the referendum vote itself, the committee said it was not compromised because it was a paper ballot.
So, no smoking gun and, for the Johnson government, perhaps another bullet dodged.