Tory MP says Russia is ‘trying to damage UK democracy,’ calls for ‘foreign powers act’ A Tory MP claims Britain must adopt a ‘foreign powers act’ to curb Russian influence that is threatening UK democracy, and warned that politicians must not be “paid influencers for others” – but why focus only on Russia?
Writing in The Times, Tory MP Bob Seely called on the UK government to consider the introduction of a ‘foreign powers act,’ in light of recent controversy surrounding House of Lords peers, such as Lord Greg Barker, who has come under scrutiny for his role as chairman of Russian energy firm EN+.
Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight, claims that British politicians acting as lobbyists for an “adversarial power” such as Russia, who he says is attempting to undermine UK democracy, looks dreadful.
“It’s not just the accusations of lobbying but also the lack of transparency. Peers lobbying in private in support of a self-proclaimed adversarial power looks dreadful. Russia is trying to damage the credibility of democracy. If it can create division, it will do so,” he wrote.
What’s noticeable about Seely’s piece is its sole focus on Russia. You’d think there was no case to answer for other countries and their British-based lobbyists.
Journalist and political commentator John Wight told RT that the likes of Saudi Arabia, the United States, Israel and Qatar are just some examples of states guilty of interfering in UK politics and culture.
“Various nations have massive influence on British politics to the point at which British democracy has been disfigured as a consequence,” Wight told RT.
“Saudi Arabia has pumped huge money into British politics and to British culture vis-a-vis the media, where it’s taken out full-page ads in newspapers such as The Times and Guardian in advance of the state visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman back in March.”
Wright suggested the “weak response” from the UK government to the Khashoggi murder was due to them not wanting to destabilize the economic ties with the kingdom, which “primarily consists of arms sales.”
He also highlighted the time former US president Barack Obama said he would prefer if the UK stayed together, during the run up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, saying: “Imagine if Vladimir Putin had said that?”
Wright claims other countries such as Saudi Arabia and the US are able to operate without proper scrutiny and accountability, because they are seen as natural allies of the UK – unlike Russia, which is seen as the “designated official enemy.”
“Russia is the designated official enemy within the British ruling class. So anything can be said to smear Russia, to attack Russia, and there’ll be no political price paid,” he said.
It comes as The Times revealed that Lord Barker’s En+ company, the Russian energy giant, is majority-owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is said to be a close ally of President Putin.
Lord Barker has denied ever lobbying the UK government, telling The Times: “I have never lobbied the UK government or requested assistance from any member of either of the Houses of Parliament. I have absolutely no need to do so and it is completely false to suggest that I have.”
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