Priti Patel fires warning over spy activities threat to national security

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In a speech in Washington, the Home Secretary said countries are now spying on “universities and businesses”. She warned that “malign interference” is one of the “most significant threats to security” the UK faces.

China is now targeting universities, infrastructure and technology companies in the UK, it has been claimed.

Ms Patel said: “Espionage is evolving. Governments continue to spy on each other, but spying now has a much further reach, including into our universities and businesses.

“It is not inherently improper for countries to try to influence each other. That is what I am here for, after all. But we can never allow national security to be compromised.”

Ms Patel was speaking to The Heritage Foundation think tank on the final day of a trip to Washington DC to strengthen security cooperation with the United States.

The Home Secretary said laws to tackle spying are being modernised to deal with the changing threats, which are “uninhibited and growing”.

Strong relations with the US are “absolutely critical” to protecting both countries from hostile activity.

Ms Patel added: “We in the UK will no longer tolerate such brazen attacks and the brazen way we have seen our national security subject to such activities.

“Our upcoming legislation will represent the biggest counter state threats legislation in decades.”

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