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UK Foreign Minister Warns of Potential Russian Meddling in June Election | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. (AFP)

The Britain’s foreign secretary warned on Saturday that the UK needed to “vigilant” regarding possible Russian interference in next month’s national election.

Boris Johnson said that there is a “realistic possibility” Moscow might try to meddle in the polls, he told an interview with The Telegraph newspaper.

The Conservative politician also said Russian President Vladimir Putin would “rejoice” if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor party won the June 8 election.

Referring to Putin, 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 emails were hacked], in the western Balkans he is up to all sorts of sordid enterprises, so we have to be vigilant.”

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

On Friday, Britain’s health system was subjected to a major cyber-attack.

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 the EU might seek an upfront payment in 2019 of up to 100 billion euros ($109 billion). That sum was immediately rejected by British ministers.

Meanwhile, Labor’s deputy leader Tom Watson said that the Conservative party will win a “Margaret Thatcher style” landslide in next month’s election unless the Labor party improves its poll ratings.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper published on Saturday, Watson said Labor had “a mountain to climb” before election day.

“If we get to June 8 and (Conservative leader Theresa May) still commands the lead in the polls she had at the start of the election, she will command a Margaret Thatcher style majority,” said Watson, referring to the 140- and 100-seat landslides the Conservatives won in 1983 and 1987.

“A Conservative government with a 100 majority is what it is. It will be very hard for them to be held to account in the House of Commons. It means there won’t be the usual checks and balances of democracy … all those things go out the window.”

A YouGov opinion poll for The Times newspaper, published on Wednesday, put Conservative support at 46 percent against Labor’s 30 percent.

Labor will promise to renationalize rail and mail services and take some of the energy sector into public hands, betting a shift to the left will win over voters, according to a leaked copy of its draft manifesto, published this week.