27 April 2022

MPs wear Russian sanctions as ‘badge of honour’

27 April 2022

MPs are wearing sanctions as a “badge of honour” after Moscow banned nearly 300 from entering Russia in retaliatory action over the UK’s response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it was taking action against 287 members of the House of Commons in response to sanctions against Russian politicians, though its list contained numerous former MPs.

A statement accused the Conservative and Labour members of “whipping up of Russophobic hysteria”.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s department announced the move in response to the UK sanctioning 386 members of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, last month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the MPs “should regard it as a badge of honour”, and multiple politicians welcomed being included on the list.

Tory former chief whip Mark Harper said he is “proud” to be included, ex-minister Andrew Murrison said he is “delighted”, while former Brexit secretary David Davis joked: “How will I ever cope?”.

The sanctions list also includes ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Amanda Milling and Penny Mordaunt, as well as Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

But the supposed list of “members of the Conservative Party faction in the House of Commons” appeared well out of date.

Charlie Elphicke, who was thrown out of the party and jailed after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, was also included.

So too were Sir Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve and Justine Greening – who all had the whip withdrawn for rebelling over Brexit and were no longer MPs after the 2019 election.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: “It’s, I think, no disrespect to those who haven’t been sanctioned when I say that all those 287 should regard it as a badge of honour.

“And what we will do is keep up our robust and principled support for the Ukrainian people and their right to protect their lives, their families, and to defend themselves.

“That’s what this country is doing, and that has the overwhelming support, I think, of the whole House.”

Liz Truss announced sanctions against the Duma on March 11 (Rob Pinney/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Lindsay said he is “alarmed” at the sanctions, while Labour MP Chris Bryant said he is “absolutely distressed” and “slightly surprised” at not being included in the list.

Mr Bryant told the Commons: “I can only assume that the Russian Federation accepts that every single thing that I have said about President (Vladimir) Putin over the last few years is true. He is a barbarous villain and we must make sure that he fails.”

A translation of the Russian foreign ministry statement said the sanctions are being applied “on the basis of reciprocity”.

It added: “These persons, who are no longer allowed to enter the Russian Federation, took the most active part in the establishment of anti-Russian sanctions instruments in London, and contribute to the groundless whipping up of Russophobic hysteria in the UK.

“The hostile rhetoric and far-fetched accusations coming from the mouths of British parliamentarians not only condone the hostile course of London, aimed at demonising our country and its international isolation, but are also used by opponents of mutually respectful dialogue with Russia to undermine the foundation of bilateral co-operation.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced the sanctions against the Duma on March 11.

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