MI5 boss: UK faces a ‘nasty mix’ of terror and espionage threats
Ken McCallum has tried to project strength and confidence in part to distract attention from MI5’s poor performance and conceal its internal divisions
In his first public address since becoming the Director General of the Security Service (MI5), Ken McCallum has talked about a growing threat from violence by terror groups and espionage by foreign intelligence services.
McCallum, who replaced Andrew Parker as Director General of MI5 in April, complained that his organization is “battling competing priorities”.
“The national security challenges presented by Russian, Chinese, Iranian and other actors are growing in severity and in complexity”, McCallum claimed.
The new MI5 boss added that “we [the UKQueen to break with tradition and pay her first ever publicized visit to the Security Service back in February.
In recent years MI5 has failed to detect and disrupt several terror attacks, most recently a stabbing at Reading in June which claimed three lives.
Prior to that, in February 2020 a convicted terrorist (who was well known to MI5) stabbed and wounded two people in Streatham, south London.
But far more importantly – and in the context of state-based threats to the UK – MI5 was deeply demoralized by the March 2018 attack on the Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury.
In addition, MI5 appears to be failing to contain domestic threats to the UK’s national cohesion and territorial integrity.
The rise of Scottish nationalism and the Security Service’s failure to arrest the momentum towards Scottish independence is a case in point.
Whilst Boris Johnson steadfastly refuses to grant permission for a Scottish independence referendum, behind the scenes the British security services are quietly busy plotting against the independence movement.
Finally, MI5 is currently at odds with the leaders of the Home Office, notably Home Secretary Priti Patel.
As the Home office nominally controls MI5 – at least in constitutional if not operational terms – the poor relationship between MI5 bosses and the leaders of the Home Office can be construed as yet another indicator of the instability at the heart of the British Security Service.
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