Sunday shows: Starmer vows to push “further and faster” on sanctions

Sunday Morning

Keir Starmer called for quicker action on Russian oligarchs and express concern over reports that Boris Johnson pushed ahead with the peerage nomination of Evgeny Lebedev, the son of an ex-KGB agent, despite concerns from intelligence officials.

  • Asked for Labour’s red line for intervention: “Everybody understands why there cannot be a military intervention, because of the escalation that would inevitably follow from that. It does mean that the other measures – the sanctions – have to be the strongest possible… They have to not just isolate Russia, they have to make it impossible for Russia to function.”
  • On the economic crime bill: “We want to push the government further and faster than they’re going on sanctions because they have to do so much work in this conflict.”
  • On Labour’s amendments: “The government initially said we’ll give people 18 months to register [on the UK properties list]. That’s far too long because people will simply sell their homes and assets if they think they’re going to be seized.” He said the revised timeframe of six months is still too long and Labour will pushing for 28 days.
  • On government progress on oligarchs: “Yes. But I am frustrated because many people including in the Labour Party have been calling for these measures for some time.”
  • On intelligence services concerns over the Evgeny Lebedev peerage: “I’m very concerned about that story because it goes to the heart of national security and there’s at least the suggestion that the government and the PM were warned that there was a national security risk in this particular appointment.” He said the case should be referred to the cross-party intelligence and security committee.
  • On defence spending: “We wouldn’t be making the cuts that the government is currently making.”
  • On whether he is withdrawing his call for the PM to resign: “I do think there’s a basic question of trust.” But he added that “when it comes to standing up against Russian aggression, we stand as one”. He neither withdrew his call nor repeated it.

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

John Healey, the Shadow Defence Secretary, called on the government to work with Labour on “toughening up” the economic crime bill, and said Labour expects to see a big boost to defence in the Budget.

  • On calls for a no-fly zone: “Establishing a no-fly zone will mean shooting Russian fighters out of the sky. It will do too little to protect the Ukrainians from the artillery and missile fire… and the big risk is that it gives Putin the grounds to rapidly escalate this conflict.”
  • He added: “The best thing that Britain and Western countries can do at the moment is to step up the military assistance, as we have been doing, to help Ukrainians defend themselves… [and] press for an immediate ceasefire and then the withdrawal of Russian troops.”
  • On UK sanctions: “We’ve been arguing for some time, for nearly six years since, that the scale of the dirty money that helps keep Putin in power washing through London – action is required… For six years, we’ve been arguing for the economic crime bill that the Commons only tomorrow will get to debate for the first time.”
  • On the economic crime bill: “This economic crime bill is important. It will give us some of the economic weapons we don’t yet have, but it needs toughening up, and if the government will work with Labour to do that… we will give them full cooperation.”
  • Asked whether Labour would support a significant increase in defence spending: “Labour backed the big increase in capital spending the Prime Minister announced in late 2020… I would expect to see a big boost to defence in the Budget in two weeks’ time. The government must respond to increased threats.”

Dominic Raab described the government’s sanctions as “the biggest sanctions package I can remember”. He said that “Putin must fail in Ukraine” but warned it could take “months if not years” and the West must show “strategic stamina”.

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