Many of Wednesday’s papers focus on the release of a report into Russian interference in the UK.
The Guardian believes Boris Johnson is facing “intense criticism” because of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s conclusion that the risk of Russian interference in the 2016 EU referendum was not taken seriously enough.
In its leader column, the paper calls for a full public inquiry. It is sceptical about the government’s insistence that there’s no evidence of successful meddling, asking: “How would it know if no-one has looked?”
But the Daily Express takes the prime minister’s assurances at face value, with the front page headline: “Boris: no way Russia rigged Brexit vote.”
The paper says the report will come as a “crushing disappointment for the die-hard Remainers”, whom it says claimed the document would be the “ultimate proof of their conspiracy theory, that the Kremlin rigged the 2016 vote”.
The i paper is not as concerned as some of the other papers about the delay between the completion of the report, and its eventual publication.
The Financial Times hopes the findings will act as wake-up call for the government. “The report is a salutary warning of the challenge still posed by the main foe in the last one,” its leader column says.
The paper believes new espionage laws are needed, and says the security services need the financial and legislative backing to combat the problem.
The front of the Times suggests such moves may be on the way. “MI5 to get more powers” is the headline. Its leader column suggests that the Official Secrets Act is “outdated” and should be overhauled.
On its front page, the Daily Telegraph reports on a claim it says was made by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a private meeting with MPs.
It says Mr Pompeo alleged the World Health Organization’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak in China was hampered because its director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had made a deal with Beijing in order to secure its role.
Meanwhile, according to the Daily Telegraph, the government is now working on the assumption that Britain and the European Union will fail to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.
It says that, with the current round of talks in deadlock, senior government sources believe the only chance of an agreement is “if the EU gives ground in the autumn”.
‘A teeny Turner’
Finally, the Daily Mail reveals how a British artist is creating miniature versions of artistic masterpieces. These include a replica of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl earring, four times the size of a thimble.