Boris Johnson says Putin has ‘singled out’ UK for ‘leading’ on global sanctions

Laughter from Labour benches as PM says Britain ‘in the lead on global sanctions’

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 09 March 2022 14:19
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Vladimir Putin has “singled out” the UK as the global leader on sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister sparked jeers and laughter from the Labour benches at PMQs when he claimed Moscow was particularly angry at Britain because his government was “in the lead” on retaliatory measures.

“The Kremlin has single out the UK for being in the lead on global sanctions, and in leading the world in defiance of the odious war Putin is leading in Ukraine,” Mr Johnson said.

The prime minister came under pressure to take more action to crack down on the influence on Russia-linked oligarchs and so-called “dirty money” in the UK.

Mr Johnson suggested that the government would kick out wealthy Russians in the UK if they were to appear on a sanctions list.

Senior Conservative MP John Penrose praised the government for ending so-called “golden visas” for wealthy entrepreneurs – but asked if the government will remove visas given to Russian oligarchs living in the UK.

Mr Penrose, the PM’s anti-corruption adviser, said: “Will he pledge that anyone who is put on the sanctions list on the coming days and is already on the UK on a golden visa will have it ripped up so they can be thrown out?”

The prime minister said the Economic Crime Bill – set to become law next week – would mean the government would be “able to whip aside the veil of anonymity” and “the ownership of these luxurious dwellings will be exposed”.

Mr Johnson added: “And yes, we will be able to take away their ability to remain in this country.”

Foreign secretary Liz Truss admitted on Monday that the UK had been “slower” than the US and EU in imposing sanctions against individuals with links to the Putin regime.

The cabinet minister blamed peers for adding “cumbersome” amendments to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2018, aimed at replicating much of the EU’s sanction regime.

“We had a group of lawyers and peers in the House of Lords who pushed for more cumbersome amendments that really put a very high bar on our lawyers,” Ms Truss told the committee.

It comes as the government impounded a private jet suspected of being linked to a Russian oligarch at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire hours before it was due to fly to Dubai.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said airport operators can now detain a Russian aircraft, or one suspected of being chartered by a Russian, after sanctions law was tightened.

The jet will only be allowed to leave Farnborough if no link with Russia is established, according to a government source.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson came under pressure to “reset” his response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis – with renewed calls for the government tow waive visa requirements.

Senior Tory MP Julian Smith called for a more “humane” response, while the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said ministers had overseen “one of the slowest, most bureaucratic and incompetent responses in the whole of Europe”.

The prime minister also rejected calls to offer more help on energy cost in response to the Ukraine crisis, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned that war could force a further £1,000 spike in household bills this autumn.

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