Politics Live: Clive Lewis stuns viewers with former Russian politician’s Boris Johnson Christmas card

A CONSERVATIVE MP was surprised when a Labor representative revealed a copy of a Christmas card sent by a former Russian MP with a photo of Boris Johnson and reading ‘we open closed doors’ during an episode of Politics Live.

The pair were appearing on the BBC’s political debates programme, discussing efforts to tackle Russian ‘dirty money’ in the UK following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

After fury erupted last week over the Tories receiving nearly £2m from Russia-linked donors since 2019, the government is set to fast-track plans to tackle ‘dirty money’ and expose foreign oligarchs laundering their wealth through the UK property market.

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Following the sanctions package announced by Johnson last week, ministers will table the Economic Crimes (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill – previously expected later in the session – in Parliament on Tuesday.

The legislation will establish a new Foreign Entity Register requiring foreign owners of property in the UK to declare their true identity, in a bid to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secret networks of front companies.

Those who fail to comply will face restrictions on selling the property, while those who break the rules will face up to five years in prison.

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Discussing the measures on Politics Live, Labor MP Clive Lewis suggested they came too late.

“Let’s be clear here,” he told viewers. “It took troops massing on Ukraine’s borders and an invasion for this government to be pulled, dragged, kicked and screamed to introduce the economic crime bill…a bill that he was going to cancel, he quietly put aside, until a few weeks ago.

“Now to hear Boris Johnson and other Tory ministers stand up and talk about this…much of what they are proposing now will not tackle the millions that have come in, Russian money that has come into politics British.

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“As I understand the two lists that Liz Truss and the government have written and filed, neither of those names contains people who have funded the Conservative Party and invested money in politics.”

Lewis then produced a photo copy of a Christmas card from a former Russian MP, whose company boasted of offering “exclusive access” to British government ministers.

As originally reported in The MirrorSergey Penchinin had sent the festive message showing a photo of him with Boris Johnson, and reading “we open closed doors”.

Penchinin, who was “a senior adviser to a number of federal MPs and senators in Russia” and describes himself as an “effective lobbyist”, says on LinkedIn that his company can “introduce you to UK government executives and is required to build and maintain relationships.

The former Russian MP had previously met David Cameron and Theresa May. Photographs on his social media showed him with Johnson on at least six occasions.

Holding the card, Lewis told viewers: ‘I mean look – you have a Christmas card from a former Putin politician saying ‘we’re opening doors’, featuring Boris Johnson. state of our politics and frankly after 10 years of this government, of a conservative administration, to now suddenly be champions of democracy… frankly it sucks.

Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP who has called on the government to act further and faster on Russian sanctions, sat in silence for a second before clapping his hands in response.

The National:

” What can I say ? he asked the panel. “It’s wrong and what we need to do… We didn’t understand what was going on, we didn’t appreciate the big picture here – not just here, but through intelligence.

“What Russia did, what Putin did, he has been planning for 10 to 15 years. We haven’t figured out where this is going, we haven’t recognized the money that’s coming into this country and yes, you’re absolutely right, the Conservative Party hasn’t done its due diligence to determine who was behind that money.

“We now recognize that this is completely wrong, I hope my party will make amends and look at where this money is coming from and react to it.”

After reporting on the Christmas card, Penchinin told the Mirror he had met Johnson “a few times” but his donation to the Tories was rejected because of his Russian passport.

He also told the newspaper: “I strongly support Ukraine and I fled Russia, they took all my stuff.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson added: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly reported to and published by the Electoral Commission, in accordance with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

“As Electoral Commission records show, we have not accepted any donations from this person.”

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