During Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions I asked about the situation in Crimea, the Ukrainian economy and the Magnitsky amendment.Read more
The world is arguably more fragmented and polarised than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War. The wave of optimism and internationalism that swept all before it in the 1990s has given way to a rising tide of nationalism. The seemingly unstoppable forward march of liberal democracy has been halted in its tracks and forced to retreat, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the forces of tribalism, nativism and authoritarianism.
Putinist Russia is at the vanguard of the zero-sum game mind-set that has come to define this age of fragmentation that has driven the rise of Trump, Orban, Le Pen, Salvini, Bolsonaro, the Brextremists, and a plethora of nationalist parties such as the AfD and the Sweden Democrats. Disdain for multilateralism and international organisations is the red thread that runs through and between every one of these individuals and the movements that they lead. To them, compromise, moderation and pragmatism are dirty words.Read more
‘What’s the definition of the Soviet Union?’
‘Well, it’s where the workers pretend to work, and the bosses pretend to pay them.’
Of all the many jokes about the Soviet times that I heard during the three years that I lived in St Petersburg, this was probably my favourite. Why? Because that one short punch line tells you all you need to know about why so many Russians are so deeply cynical about rules, systems and institutions.Read more
Let's Send Mr Putin A Clear Message: British People Will No Longer Tolerate Brazen & Reckless Actions Of Your Regime
Speaking in the debate on the Salisbury Incident, I spoke about my time in Russia, the UK's relationship with Russia and the need to send Mr Putin a clear message: the British people will no longer tolerate the brazen and reckless actions of your regime, and we will no longer tolerate the way in which you and your cronies use London as a laundromat for your ill-gotten gains.Read more
The fact that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have all taken unilateral action, implementing their Magnitsky legislation, clearly demonstrates that there is no reason why the United Kingdom cannot do the same. Government needs to explain why they have not taken unilateral national action.Read more
It has been four months since the Magnitsky amendment was passed in the House, yet the Government have done absolutely nothing to implement the legislation. The Government are hiding behind the EU but Lithuania is an EU member-state and is pushing through unilateral sanctions targeting Russia individuals (which go beyond a travel ban) on basis of Magnitsky legislation.Read more
In a Westminster Hall debate I argued that Britain must engage with Russia as it is, and not how we would like it to be. We must understand the history, culture, interests and foreign policy objectives of this vast nation, whilst also being absolutely clear, strong and resolute in the face of Russian aggression.Read more
Following the Prime Minister's decision to authorise air strikes in Syria over the weekend, Parliament had the chance to debate the Prime Minister's actions. I spoke about how the chemical weapons attach on innocent civilians was a brutal and barbaric act, that Parliament should have had a say in the action and that I refuse to allow our country's foreign policy to be determined by Vladimir Putin.Read more
We Should Not Allow Putin To Use The World Cup As Smokescreen For His Crimes & To Bolster His Regime
I called on the Foreign Secretary to work with others around to world to postpone the World Cup, and relocate it to another country in 2019. Our government should be working with others to strip Russia of the FIFA World Cup & relocate it in 2019, after the Women's World Cup. Sport & politics DO mix & we should not allow Putin to use WC as smokescreen for his crimes & to bolster his regime.Read more
(Credit The Times News Syndication)
I remember my first flight to St. Petersburg in May 2005 as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was on my way to take up my post as Director of the British Council’s operations in St. Petersburg, and felt a palpable sense of hope, combined with a healthy dose of trepidation.
I was looking forward to improving my Russian and getting settled into my new life in St. Pete, as we fondly referred to it. But I was also wondering what the coming years had in store for me, given the parlous state of the bilateral relationship.
Equally memorable, but for very different reasons, was my flight out of Russia in January 2008.Read more