LONDON (Reuters) – The leak of classified UK-U.S. trade documents online, tied to a previous Russian disinformation campaign, has all the hallmarks of an attempt to interfere in Britain’s upcoming election, a British minister said on Saturday.
Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Nicky Morgan arrives to attend the National Service of Remembrance, on Remembrance Sunday, at The Cenotaph in Westminster, London, Britain, November 10, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson – RC298D9UMKYJ
The opposition Labour Party says the leaked documents show the ruling Conservatives are plotting to offer the state-run National Health Service (NHS) for sale in post-Brexit trade talks with Washington.
The NHS, much loved by Britons, has become a major issue in campaigning for the Dec. 12 election, polls ahead of which show Labour trailing the Conservatives.
On Friday, social media site Reddit said it believed the documents had been leaked by a campaign that originated in Russia, fuelling fears that Moscow was seeking to interfere in Britain’s election.
“I understand from what was being put on that website that those who seem to know about these things say it seems to have all the hallmarks of some form of interference,” culture minister Nicky Morgan told BBC radio.
“If that is the case, that is extremely serious.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the truth about the leaks had not yet been established, repeating that the documents did not prove Labour’s argument that U.S. President Donald Trump wanted the NHS to be included in a future trade deal.
The government has said it is looking into the matter with support from the National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency.
Researchers told Reuters on Monday that the way the documents were first shared on Reddit and