Interviews with Boris Johnson MP, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, and Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU.
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As we shiver our way
through more Siberian weather,
this weekend our relationship
with Russia is going
through a truly dangerous crisis.
It isn't just the alleged
assassinations - it's also
about the strength of our alliances,
Britain's standing in the world.
Or, to put it bluntly, in 2018,
do the Russians care
how angry Britain gets?
Boris Johnson, the Foreign
Secretary, is with us to talk
about the Russian crisis,
and just possibly, one or two other
issues of the moment.
And I've been talking to one
of the most senior Russian
diplomats, Vladimir Putin's
ambassador to the EU,
And in a week when Labour has been
sharply divided about its response
to the Salisbury attack,
Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow
Baroness Shami Chakrabarti.
So a very busy hour ahead.
Before we get stuck into those
reviewing the news this weekend,
Guardian columnist Owen Jones
and Jane Moore from The Sun.
But first the news
with Christian Fraser.
The Russian Ambassador
to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov,
has suggested that the UK's
own research laboratory in Wiltshire
could be the source of the nerve
agent used in the poisoning
of a former Russian
spy in Salisbury.
Here's our Diplomatic
Correspondent, James Robbins.
Two weeks after the chemical attack
on Sergei and Yulia Skripal,
Ambassador Chizhov said
there were no stockpiles whatsoever
of nerve agents left in Russia.
But then in an interview with
Andrew Marr he went a bit further.
Asked how the chemical weapon came
to be used in Salisbury,
Mr Chizhov suggested...
When you have the nerve agent
or whatever, you check it
against certain samples that
you retain in your laboratories.
And Porton Down, as we now all know,
is the largest military facility
in the United Kingdom that has been
dealing with chemical
And it's actually only eight
miles from Salisbury.
You're not suggesting Porton Down
is responsible for this nerve agent?
I don't know, I don't know,
I don't have evidence
of anything having been used.
As Britain continues to investigate
the chemical attack,
the Foreign Office dismissed this
latest Russian account
as absolute nonsense with not
an ounce of truth in it.
A spokesperson said it's just
another futile attempt
by the Russian state to divert
the story away from the facts that
Russia has acted in flagrant breach
of its international obligations.
James Robbins, BBC News.
And you can see the full interview
with Tadini Chizhov later in this
The Foreign Secretary has
described Russia's closure
of the British Council and Consulate
in St Petersburg as "futile".
Writing in the Sun on Sunday,
Boris Johnson says the move
will punish ordinary Russians
by depriving them of
opportunities to learn English.
The closures were part
of Russia's retaliation
to sanctions imposed by the UK.
And voting in Russia's
presidential election is taking
place across the country,
with Vladimir Putin set to secure
a fourth term in ofifce.
who voted this morning in Moscow,
has run the country as President
or Prime Minister since 1999.
Seven candidates are standing
against him, but polls
place his nearest rival on just 7
per cent of the vote.
Results are expected this evening.
Snow and ice are causing difficult
conditions in parts of the UK
after a new cold snap dubbed
the "mini beast from the east".
Parts of eastern
England and Scotland
have already had snow,
with more expected in
the Midlands and Wales.
Amber warnings have been issued
for north-west England,
Yorkshire, the Midlands,
London and south-east
England from the afternoon.
People are being advised to avoid
travelling unless they have to.
A group of MPs says the government
should consider delaying the date
for leaving the EU if complex
issues remain unresolved.
The Commons Exiting the EU Committee
also suggests the transition period
should be extended if no agreement
is reached by October.
However, eight pro-Brexit MPs
on the committee refused
to back the report.
That's all from me.
The next news on BBC One
is at One o'clock.
Back to you, Andrew.
Thank you Christian.
The front pages, one story
dominating, the Mail on Sunday, the
Prime Minister's war on Vladimir
Hooton. And a similar story on the
Sunday express. This is the Sunday
Telegraph. What Will Puddy near
Putin do? The Sunday Times has
rather an alarming story. Will talk
about that later. -- what will
Vladimir Putin do? And this is the
Observer. Focusing on Cambridge
Analytica. Apparently harvesting
data, preaching rules on Facebook
and what we will do our best to
explain that to you during the
course of the review. At first, the
Sunday Times. Jane.
This is complex
stuff, but what are cooler
conversation I have been hearing all
week has been about Russia cutting
off our gas and here we have the
Sunday Times blackout threat, saying
the National Grid was put on alert
last week by spy chiefs saying this
may happen and we have to prepare
for it. Which is alarming stuff in
terms of this...
And it shows the
danger of the tit-for-tat
escalation, we kick at 23, they kick
out 23 and get rid of the British
Whether or not this happens
again, in terms of if there is
anything we learn from this ever
evolving story is more money into
defence, hopefully, but hopefully
into energy policies so we are not
over an oil barrel or whatever!
Absolutely. This is not because we
get lots and lots of gas from Russia
but Kos Russian cyber attacks to
close down big chunks of
infrastructure. Owen Jones.
fascinating story about Russian
oligarchs in London explaining about
their business is remaining in
Russia, not permanently residing in
the UK, mansions and palaces on by
offshore companies, hailing little
in tax, very parasitical, not
contributing to the economy. It is
the observer, my sister paper, I
Absolutely. Anyone who
has bid on watching the Mafia
understands the danger of dirty
money washing to London but the
question is what can be done.
Absolutely, but the Conservatives
have been doing is talking rhetoric
which is light years away in
substance but the
substance but the so-called ten back
to amendment. What Labour aren't
suggesting is to have an oligarchy
levy which would raise about £1
billion every single year of which
would target mansions bought by
offshore trusts which are all over
London. I think the point I am
making, if we want an effect of
response because these are oligarchs
linked to a gangster receive in
Russia, they looted the assets of
that country, they need to get them
where it hurts and it's not doing a
theatrical kick out a diplomat here,
very good for the Russian elections,
shall we have a sweepstake on the
elections? What would get the
Russian regime is to go for the
economic centres and I have a say,
it's interesting you get these
conspiracy theories about the Labour
leadership linked to foreign powers,
they are actually demanding far
tougher action on Russia and its
oligarchs by going for economic
assets than the Tories are and they
will be the Tories are awash with...
Should we be going for economic
assets based on the fact we are in
this argument with Russia or should
we be rolling it out for all dirty
money? It's not just Russian sat at
dirty money going through London.
Both, it's the right thing to do, we
should be pretty ashamed of our
great capital city, at the epicentre
so much money-laundering for many
dubious regimes, these people are
not living here because they like
the weather or the West End, they
come here because we have a regime
that encourages that sort of money
and the Tories I'm afraid are
It was happening under
Tony Blair as well, a lot of dirty
I don't think anyone could
compare this Labour Party to that
Let's move on, Boris
Johnson on the show...
He is written
in the Sun on Sunday,
unsurprisingly, he is paid tribute
to the many Labour MPs who have
condemned Vladimir Putin, he kicked
out Jeremy Corbyn unsurprisingly as
the only person who refuses to join
the show of solidarity and have
disappointed... Who is defending
Jeremy Corbyn. I know, Peter
Hitchens no less, coming out for
Jeremy Corbyn and saying Jeremy
Corbyn, the treatment by many
politicians and those in the media
is disgraceful because he's doing
what he's paid to do, which is to
lead the opposition. A powerfully
written piece. He says he has a
better record on foreign policy than
almost anyone in Parliament.
is true, on Libya, he was one of
only 30 MPs that voted against it,
anyone who spoke out was condemned
as a Gaddafi stooge but I think the
pointy mixes imported, look at
Russia, what does the regime do
phone talks about opposition,
foreign links, foreign students,
linked to international terrorists.
They depend on a kind of paranoia.
Increasingly what you have in this
country, the enemies of the people
splashed on the front pages of
newspapers, crushed the saboteurs,
the Leader of the Opposition smeared
as a terrorist and the stooge of
foreign regimes is to delegitimise
the opposition in a way that the
likes of Vladimir Putin doors.
likes of Vladimir Putin should them
in the streets.
The culture of
treating your opponents as traitors
is dangerous and all like-minded
He points out that he does
not like him sucking up to Sinn
Ruth Davidson the Conservative
has broken ranks are spawning and
suggested I think the Sunday
Telegraph that we should close down
Russian today because it's a
I think it's
obviously a propaganda station,
closing it down would be a PR gift I
think for the Russian regime, they
are clamping down on our press.
we know it's a propaganda station
that sort of actually takes away its
Exactly. I think the real
question is to put to the Tories if
they want to take action is will you
stop taking Russian link money,
another question, Theresa May kibosh
to an inquiry into the poisoning of
Alexander opinion good many years
ago because she said at a upset
diplomatic relations with Russia,
Marine A lit Binion go his
widow was on the show last week,
very, very upset, to care a long
time to get the public inquiry and
she thought the statement was not
You would think maybe,
you probably too many James Bond
movies but the upside of being a spy
is that you drive around in an Aston
Martin and live in a large house
with the spoils of your work but we
know from what we read that a lot of
these guys live in relative
anonymity in a terraced house and
there is this guy, a Russian
defector, saying he lives in fear of
his life, a KGB defector, halls in
his shoes, living in complete
poverty, and the reporter David
Collins says he's been abandoned by
Britain. And you do wonder, that
sort of part of the problem, isn't
it? These guys are abominable to
attack because we had just said,
thanks very much for what you did,
get on with your life with no
security, money, nothing.
argue from the point of view of
Vladimir Putin he has everything he
wants, a crisis ahead of the
election to maximise turnout, at the
same time he is sending the message
he wants to send to all former KGB
or FSB defectors, you will be
My fear of the diplomatic
ratcheting, it does not cause any
harm to the regime, it is good
propaganda, that is why the economic
assets or more powerful.
powerful in his own country.
friends, the time has come, to try
and explain the Cambridge Analytica
Over to you. This is quite
interesting, the harvesting of data
and doing detailed data profiling of
voters and so on and it's been
linked to what happened in terms of
Donald Trump's victory and breaks
it. My concern about that sometimes
is it gets conspiratorially, I voted
to campaign but we did not lose the
It must have been a kind
Exactly, but the real
important thing is about data and
its protection and I think we need
very clear laws in this country and
elsewhere that our data should be
publicly owned, not be harvested by
private companies and used in
devious ways, I think.
catastrophically injured actually,
this is the mark of modern warfare,
actually, these guys are surviving
whereas in the old days they would
have died. And you would think it
would be absolutely a tick box for
this country to look after people
like Ben Parkinson but he is having
to sue the army or the MOD...
is a suggestion he will lose his
He is not being given
the right amount of support and
financing to sustain his life as it
is now. Charities like Help For
Heroes would help him but actually,
as a country, I love this government
sends his brave people off to fight
and you get examples of innovative
I think we can all agree,
it's awful. Thank you both very
And so to the weather.
Well, this is completely absurd.
It's the middle of March,
it feels like December
and it's been snowing again.
Something should be done -
where's national leadership
when you need it!
With all the bad news, Helen
Willetts in the weather studio.
Just remember, please don't blame
the messenger for this one.
treacherous, we still have an amber
warning from the Met office for the
snow and ice. It is coming down
thick and fast, the snow. You can
see it here, this is all smoke, so
showers across eastern areas. This
is the band of snow making its way
westwards so coming into the sunny
parts of Cornwall and Devon in the
next few hours. We have had reports
of eight inches for smoke for parts
of south-east Wales, 15 centimetres
or more, we could see up to 20 and
it's a slow-moving feature. Fewer
showers this afternoon but they keep
packing in in the north and east.
The best sunshine in Northern
Ireland and the west of Scotland but
again it is bitterly cold. Adding on
the strong and gale force wind,
clearly the wind chill will make it
feel even more bitter. Through this
evening and overnight we have the
issue with snow over southern and
western areas. Horrendous
conditions, but it should start to
ease in the north. Very icy to start
a Monday morning rush-hour but with
high pressure starting to descend
southwards it cuts off the easterly
wind, cutting off the very cold air.
Temperatures will recover a little
tomorrow and it is more eyes then
snow we are concerned with tomorrow.
Some treacherous conditions for
snow we are concerned with tomorrow.
Some treacherous conditions for the
rest of the day.
I'm glad I decided to go for a nice
walk in the country tomorrow.
In the Commons this week,
Jeremy Corbyn warned Theresa May not
to rush to judgement over
who was behind the Salisbury
nerve agent attack.
Much of the press, the Conservative
party, and a fair chunk
of his own backbenchers promptly
rushed to jump all over him
as a Russian appeaser.
But is that fair?
After all, he was on the unpopular
side of the argument when it
came to Iraq and Libya,
and he feels he was proved right.
Shadow Attorney General and long
time supporter of the Labour Leader
is with me now.
Good morning, can I start by asking
clearly, do you think Vladimir
Putin's government was responsible
for what happened?
What I think is
what Theresa May said, which is
there's a responsibility of the
regime either in relation to having
lost control of this chemical
weaponry or it is even more serious
and it is a malevolent directed
attack and that's an important
distinction going forward because
you are not going to get cooperation
from the state that is deliberately
targeting you but you might get
cooperation, even from a slightly
embarrassed state that has lost
control, of its stocks of chemical
weapons. That's an important
distinction and that the distinction
Jeremy was making but also a
distinction Theresa May has made
When Boris Johnson said his
is overwhelmingly likely it is
Vladimir Putin himself...
Johnson is saying that, he must be
saying it on the basis of new
evidence that Mrs May has not yet
So at the moment as
far as you're concerned, it is not
absolutely clear this was directed
by the Kremlin?
understanding, it is either a loss
of control, which needs to be sorted
out if that's the issue, or it is
what the Foreign Secretary is
suggesting but if he is suggesting
that, that would be on the basis of
new evidence that has not been
shared with Jeremy Corbyn and it's
not what Mrs May has said to date.
Because a lot of the world seems to
have taken the same view including
France and Germany, that they think
Putin was responsible for this.
they really, said Putin was
We need to be forensic about
this, the Russian state is
responsible for its stocks or
historic stocks of chemical weapons.
You are responsible whether you lose
control or personally direct
extrajudicial killings. But what
kind of culpability is it, that's
Absolutely so if you are
not yet sure it was the Russian
state doing this themselves, why are
you supporting the expulsion of 23
Because it is apropos --
a proportionate response. I think
Jeremy was right to support that
proportion escalation but it will
not be tit for tat. Diplomacy has an
element of protocol and dancing
within it, but the crucial thing is
to go further now and that is John
McDonnell's suite of economic
measures. Also I think to pursue the
chemical weapons Convention and
potentially to ask for inspections,
and if necessary further action at
the international level.
at the alternative theory which is
that this material leaked out or was
sold during the dissolution of the
Soviet Union from some Russian
facility and acquired by some Mafia
gang of some kind, have you any
evidence that happened at all?
we have is what we have been told
and what my Privy Council colleagues
have been told by the Government.
What we have been told is what Mrs
May has said, she's outlined the two
possibilities, that is the directed
attack from the Kremlin or the loss
Entirely supposition at
We are just repeating
what we have been told because of
course we are not in Government but
we are repeating what has been
shared with us in security briefings
and what Mrs May has said.
to be in a tit-for-tat process now,
they have expelled 23 of our
diplomats and we will respond to
that, how concerned are you with
where we are going in this crisis?
would personally caution against
much more tit for tat in that way. I
agree with Jane Moore, something she
said earlier, which is isn't it
important to go for economic
measures that apply not just to
Russians but to dirty money on
non-taxpaying money regardless of
the nationality of those involved.
Quite a lot of your colleagues are
not happy at least with the tone of
what Jeremy Corbyn said. The defence
spokesperson has said Russia was
definitely responsible, Sir Keir
Starmer has said there should be no
ifs nor Bortz, Russia should be
And I agree with all of
that, I repeat Russia is looking
responsible whether it is negligent
responsibility and not keeping
control of these weapons or whether
this is an extrajudicial attack but
the distinguish between the two was
important going forward.
A lot of
Labour MPs were concerned enough to
put down motions, your colleague
Chris Williamson has called them
enemies and said they should be
deselected. This culture war in the
Labour Party is bubbling up, are you
concerned this is the moment the
crack cannot be bridged?
No, and I'm
here to make it clear I am
completely not just with Jeremy but
with near Griffith, Emily Formby and
Keir Starmer. In order to be safe
and to take control of these
chemical weapons and to eliminate
them from the world, you do need to
make a distinction between
negligence and taking back control
and something that can be even more
serious, which is directed tax
against people on to a tree.
lot of your colleagues look at
Jeremy Corbyn's office and see what
he said about Russia in the past,
and they just don't feel he is
speaking for them.
I think people
shouldn't be directing attacks on
staff it is not fair to pick on
people who cannot speak for
themselves. Jeremy is the leader of
our party but he also has a very
strong team of Shadow Cabinet
colleagues, some of whom you have
cited, and we are all at one in the
approach I have just outlined.
it comes to people like the
father-in-law of the police officer
who was poisoned in Salisbury who
said he felt Jeremy Corbyn was
mealy-mouthed when it came to
Russia, what you say to people
outside of the bubble looking in
from the outside and just not quite
sure about the tone?
I think the
tone is also spun, whether it is
Jeremy Corbyn's tome, which has been
robust but also appropriately
measured, or whether it is the
Defence Secretary who won minute
talks about proportionality but the
next minute says go away, this is a
very febrile moment and people's
words gets bombed by the media. That
is understandable, I'm not going
ballistic about that but obviously
people are concerned, people are
worried and that's why there's a
responsibility on everyone to try to
get our tone right.
Do you trust our
intelligence on this?
there's no need to send Russians
evidence of the nerve agent used? We
can accept their word it was
Here is the thing about
sending agents beyond this country,
either to possibly the Russians if
they are asking for it...
The reason for doing
that is because it is the protocol
of the Convention and I believe in
pursuing these investigations under
international law because that is
how you garner the broadest
international coalition to get
support going forward.
Do you think
in the last couple of days there has
been a McCarthyite atmosphere in
I don't want to make
things worse, I want to make things
better so I'm not going to escalate
my language at this point if you
will forgive me.
suggested there was McCarthyism
about and he has had a lot of abuse
hurled at him for this.
He's had a
lot of abuse hurled at him for a
very long time and I try to learn
from his dignity under fire.
reports today of a new group of
Labour MPs called Start Again or
something, who are very exercised
about this shoe and others, are you
concerned we are heading towards a
position where the Labour Party
I'm not too concerned.
People have always had their
democratic prerogative to experiment
with new parties and there's been
talk in the Westminster bubble about
It has gone on and on and
never happened but at some point it
In past decades that have
been experiments in new party but
the Labour Party is a very fine and
broad coalition, and I actually
think it represents the new
moderation in British politics like
taking on dirty money, like
protecting people's jobs and
services. I think I am a moderate
and pretty much always have been.
All right, thank you for talking to
Coming up here a little later, the
Sunday Politics with Sarah Smith.
She will be discussing Russia
with the Foreign Office Minister Sir
Alan Duncan and she'll also be
joined by Labour's Yvette Cooper,
chair of the Home Affairs
That's the Sunday Politics
here on BBC One at 11 o'clock.
So far, the Russian response
to Theresa May's expulsion
of Russian personnel has been
But it's come alongside a lot
of brutal mockery of Britain
from official Kremlin outlets.
Senior Russian spokesmen have
by and large kept off the airwaves
but I was able to catch up
with Mr Putin's Ambassador
to the European Union,
in Brussels this week.
Theresa May, the British Prime
Minister, and other Nato allies have
all said that Russia was responsible
for the nerve attack in Salisbury.
Highly likely, they said.
and I can assure you without
using the phraseology
like highly likely,
which has become very popular these
days, Russia had
nothing to do with it.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign
Secretary, has gone even further
and he said it's very,
very likely that Vladimir Putin
himself ordered this attack.
Well, that rests with
the responsibility of Boris Johnson,
who I believe is acting
in an inappropriate manner,
which doesn't give him credit.
This was an attack on a man widely
regarded in Russia as a traitor,
using a chemical agent regarded
as being made in Russia
and that is why many people
in Britain say it is overwhelmingly
likely the Russians
must be responsible.
And if not the Russians, who?
Well, this whole case is based
on assumptions, based on suspicions
fuelled by emotions.
You rightly referred
to Mr Skripal as a traitor,
as a defector, but you know,
I can assure you he is almost
forgotten in Russia.
He has been living in Britain
for eight years now.
Before that, I think
I should stress the point,
he was officially pardoned by
a presidential decree, which means
that whatever one can think
of him in the moral sense,
but from the legal point of view,
the Russian state have
nothing against him.
And also I should add,
his daughter, Yulia,
is a Russian citizen.
That's why, among the many
violations by the British
authorities in this case,
I will cite that it's a blatant
violation of the bilateral consular
convention by not allowing Russian
diplomats and consular officials
access to a Russian citizen
currently in hospital.
And the Russian state has now
announced a criminal investigation
into the attack on Yulia Skripal and
Mr Bush called.
Russian investigated committee will
request co-operation from the
British according to international
law and bilateral agreements and the
Russian side through the embassy in
London requested access to evidence,
if there is any, to the nerve agent
from the very beginning, from the
first day but was flatly refused. In
spite of that being, the obligation
on the British of the international
convention on prohibition of
This is a very
obscure nerve agent, not understood
around the world, has Russia ever
produced this agent Novichok? No.
Never? No. Russia will and has
stopped the production of any
chemical agents back in 92, you
cannot talk about chemical agents
produced by Russia, all that had
been produced previously was
produced by the Soviet Union, in
1992, but then resident Boris
Yeltsin signed a decree stopping all
production and according to the
International Convention on the
Prohibition of chemical weapons last
year in 2017 Russia destroyed all
its stockpiles, there is only one
country today which has not done so
which is still retaining its
chemical stockpiles and that is the
United States of America.
Can I be
absolutely clear then, Russia has no
stop violence of any nerve agent
Indeed, no stop us
Then there is the
question how did this agent come to
be used in Salisbury? It has been
suggested for instant during the
dissolution of the Soviet Union some
of this agent he had been stolen or
sold and ended up in the hands of
criminal gangs or other state
What is your view? Well,
why don't you ask yourself the
question, how come the British
authorities so quickly managed to
designate the nerve agent used as
something called Novichok. It can
only mean that
only mean that they had a
It has a signature, I
think, a chemical signature.
you have a nerve agent or whatever,
you check it against certain samples
that you retaining your
laboratories. And Porton Down as we
now all know is the largest military
facility in the United Kingdom that
has been dealing with chemical
weapons research. And it's actually
only eight miles from Salisbury.
You're not suggesting that Porton
Down is responsible for this nerve
I don't know, I don't know, I
don't have evidence of anything
being used and of course, I should
add, perhaps, that I exclude the
possibility of any stockpiles of any
chemical weapons fleeing Russia
after the collapse of the Soviet
Union. There was certain specialists
including scientists who today claim
to have been responsible for
creating some nerve agent that have
been whisked out of Russia... They
Currently residing in the
United Kingdom. They defected, they
said it was made and it was tested
and used in Uzbekistan and therefore
it was around and could have been
stolen, sold on.
I will not comment
on their words but they were
involved in certain research of
various chemical weapons, yes. In
the Soviet use.
In her first
response Theresa May has expelled 23
Russian citizens, were they spies?
Of course not, they were diplomats.
Or there any Russian spies in
Come on! You are not asking
the right person, perhaps. Art there
any British spies in Russia?
are the other possibilities that
Britain has talked about, the
Magnitsky act to freeze the assets
of various people who had been using
London to wash money through London,
individuals, in some respects I
would imagine you would welcome
I wouldn't care about the fate
of money being laundered in London,
of any other origin.
What about the
suggestion that members of the Royal
family and politicians and so forth
and come to Russia for the World
Cup? The World Cup was going to be a
very big moment for Russia, is this
a blow to Russia?
Well I'm sure
those members of the Royal family
who had been planning to come will
be sorry hearing that from their own
It's been a very
difficult time, relations between
Russia and Britain, a whole series
of issues, alleged Russian
involvement in elections in Europe,
America, Britain as well, tensions
over the Baltic states, Ukraine and
so forth, looking ahead, what do you
see for Britain's relations with
Russia after we leave the EU?
at 1.I said to a British colleague
of mine I was looking to a bright
future with British Russian
relations after Brexit cos Britain
would no longer be confined by EU
sanctions or anything like that.
Somehow, he did not support that
This period, there is almost
universal anger about British
Russian relationships in Britain at
Gavin Williamson. And in
Gavin Williamson the new
Defence Secretary said Russia will
be thinking how can we cause so much
pain in Britain, damage its economy,
with its infrastructure apart, cause
thousands and thousands of deaths
and create total chaos within the
UK? That is the perspective of a
senior British Minister about your
If I were a member
correctly he also said the wording,
Russia should shut up and go away,
let me assure that Russia is not
going to shut up and will certainly
not go away.
There has been a sort
of sense in Britain that Russia was
almost mocking us about this
terrible attack. Some of your...
Have talked about the climate being
unhealthy parishioner defectors,
falling out of holdings, defectors
eating poison and so on, almost as
if people in Moscow regard this as a
It's not a funny
matter and the latest news I heard
from Moscow, the launch of two
criminal investigations by the
Russian investigative committee on
damage to the health of the Russian
citizen, Yulia Skripal and the
unexplained, mysterious death of
To be clear,
Russian investigators will come to
British police shortly and said we
want access to this investigation,
to work alongside you phone it comes
to what happened in Salisbury and we
would like to see the nerve agent
used and we would like to see proper
Of course they will. First
in correspondence and then perhaps
should a personal visit be required
they will come. And actually Russia
has offered to call operate on the
Salisbury incident from the very
outset but we did not get any answer
whatsoever from the Foreign Office
or any other government agency.
Listening to that is the Foreign
Secretary, Boris Johnson.
Welcome. We have to be very clear
and colourful about the evidence in
this very serious matter, you have
said it is overwhelmingly likely
that Vladimir Putin is responsible,
the ambassador brush that aside, why
do you say that?
We gave the
Russians a very clear choice on the
Prime Minister said on Monday as I
said to the Russian ambassador to
the UK, either help us to understand
how the stockpiles of Novichok have
gone missing and how some of that
could have turned up on the streets
of Wiltshire in this way or else I'm
afraid we will be forced as the
prime ministers said in the House of
Commons, to draw the conclusion as
we did in the case of Alexander
Litvinenko, that the Trail of
culpability leads inexorably to the
Kremlin and I think listening to the
Russian response, listening again to
the response of the Russian
ambassador to be you with his
satirical suggestion that this was
done by UK agents from Porton Down,
this is not the response of a
country that really believes itself
to be innocent, this is not the
response of a country that wants to
engage in getting to the bottom of
The Prime Minister told the
House of Commons the red two
possible explanations either this
was a deliberate attack by the
Russian state or else the Novichok
had come out and become, had got
into the hands of criminal gangs,
you seem to be excluding the latter?
Well, we gave the Russians every
opportunity to come up with an
alternative hypothesis such as the
one that you have just described and
they haven't and their response has
been a sort of mixture of smug
sarcasm and denial, obfuscation and
delay. So what we are doing, on the
Novichok and the nerve agent, what
we will do is tomorrow, technical
experts from the Organisation for
the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
will come from the Hague to the UK,
we will share the samples with them,
they will then be tested by the most
reputable possible international
laboratories. And I might just say
in response to the ointment from the
Russian ambassador, about the
Russian stockpiles of chemical
weapons, we had evidence within the
last ten years that Russia has not
only been investigating the delivery
of nerve agents for the purposes of
assassination but it has also been
creating and stop piling Novichok.
That was a direct like that I was
You will get that and
that is exactly the tactics that we
have come to expect from Russia over
the last few years. One of the
things that has really struck me in
the course of the last few days as
we've been talking to friends and
colleagues around the world, is the
difference between their reaction
this time and their reaction to the
death of Alexander Litvinenko. And
then back in 2006, there was a much
more hesitation, watch more people
saying perhaps it could be rogue
elements of the Russian state and so
on and so forth. Now you have people
such as Nikki Haley, the US
ambassador to the UN, with her very
powerful denunciation of Russia and
my colleague on Friday in London
pointing the finger squarely at
Russia and I think what that
indicates is the change in people's
attitudes towards Russia because of
the experience of the last ten
A change in attitude, their
attitude to us, they don't really
care any more?
I think it's obvious
they do care and I think that is one
of the reasons that the UK is as it
were, in the Kremlin's Ross House
because they look at what's ours and
they think, this is the country that
time and again has called Russia
out, has stood up to Russia when it
comes to Crimea, to what they'd been
doing in Syria and just to get back
to the point I was making just now
about... Go on.
You absolutely sure
it's this mysterious thing called
Novichok? We talk about it all the
time, how are we sure?
to the best of our knowledge, this
is a Russian-made nerve agent that
falls within the category Novichok,
made only by Russia and to give back
to the point about the international
reactions which is so fascinating,
people have all now experienced
whether it's in America, Germany,
France, to say nothing of the Baltic
countries, they have all experienced
Russian meddling, malign, disrupt
Russian behaviour over the last
years, they can see a country going
in the wrong direction and that is
why they are so inclined now not to
give Russia the benefit of the doubt
and to stand shoulder to shoulder
with the UK.
Do you think given that
background that our defence spending
is enough, Tobias Ellwood says it's
no longer enough, what happened to
the dollar but the threat we now
face from the east, we need to
protect ourselves better as a
country than we have been doing and
we need to spend more?
We are one of
the biggest spenders on defence in
Natal, as you know, we contribute
about 20% to European defence
spending already and it's quite
right we should spend well on our
The argument is we
should be spending more than the
We must make sure we are
adequately and properly defended and
that is the case that I make and
other... And other ministers
certainly have been making. When it
comes to the defences of this
country, we are also ensuring that
we are protected against cyber
attack and attacks on the critical
national infrastructure and other
We read today there
has been increased worry about
attacks on the infrastructure,
electricity supply, nuclear power
stations, water and so forth, is
that something the government is
worried about at the moment?
say something obviously that is a
threat that has changed over the
last few years, cyber attacks are a
relatively new development but we
have the national cyber Security
Centre, we have fantastic
preparations against such threats.
Do you think the death of Nikolai
Glushkov is connected to this
I have no evidence of any
The ambassador also said
the Russians are prosecuting the
deaths of the daughter of Mr Skripal
and Mr Glushkov because they are
both Russian citizens, will they get
We have wanted
co-operation from the Russians in
this matter for some days and we
have been greeted with a lot of
sarcasm, and I think plainly an
attitude of a country that is
guilty. If we can genuinely be of
assistance to the Russians in
getting to the bottom of what has
happened, we will do that. I doubt
they are entirely serious.
Russian investigators arrive in
London and say we are interested in
the attack on Yulia and the death of
Mr Skripal, we would like access to
the investigation we are conducting,
they will be given that?
We will do
everything we can to assist in
getting to the bottom of what has
happened. Whether it is appropriate
to have Russian investigators on UK
soil engaged in trying to get to the
bottom of this, I somewhat doubt,
but what we will certainly do...
Help as far as we can.
ensure that, I'm afraid the
ambassador was completely misleading
about the UK's obligations under the
organisation for the Prohibition of
chemical weapons, we have followed
those obligations to the letter and
what we will be doing now is getting
the samples and making sure they are
available to technical experts to
allow them to elucidate exactly what
they are. I think you would agree,
they are a rather more reliable and
I think the British people have more
confidence and they do than in any
Let's move on
to what happens next. We kicked out
23 of their people we regard as
spies, they kicked out 23 of hours,
tit for tat, is that that?
a normal symmetry in these
diplomatic affairs and you would
Is it going to go
further than that symmetry is what
We will discuss this
week what further measures, if any,
we may want to take what I would
just stress this. The UK is already
pursuing a number of measures,
hardening our borders, of course
pursuing the diplomatic expulsions,
but we are also going to be using
the tools that are available to us
under existing statute to pursue
those who may have corruptly
obtained their wealth. We were going
further with the Magnitsky clause in
the sanctions Bill so all these
things are moving forward.
ago the Labour Party put down
Magnitsky act amendments and the
Conservatives voted against them,
why was that?
deficiencies in the way the
amendments were drafted which didn't
make them suitable but we are
working to get provisions that will
allow those who have been
responsible for gross violations of
human rights to be prosecuted and
not to be able to come to this
To be clear, as a
government you are going to go after
named individuals who have in the
past been able to wash their money
through London, invest in housing
and so forth, and grab their money?
We live in a democracy under the
rule of law, it's not open to me as
a politician to direct the
law-enforcement agencies to draft
and such, that's what they do
Russia. We have statute now since
April last year under the criminal
finance act to do this. We have said
that where people have obtained
wealth by corruption, and where we
can see a link with the Kremlin,
with Vladimir Putin, it may be
possible to have unexplained wealth
orders and other sanctions on those
individuals, and that work is going
on now. You would not expect me to
Labour says part of
the Conservative hesitation on this
is that you as a party have been
taking far too much Russian money
for far too long. There's the
for far too long. There's the case
of one person who peddle hundred and
£60,000 to have a game of tennis
with you. Did that game take place?
Can I make a point about this
You are going to say good
Russians and bad Russians, I know
that. I was going to say back to you
that this lady's husband was a
minister of Vladimir Putin and given
an award by Vladimir Putin so he was
close to the regime, and you as a
party were prepared to take £160,000
from her so she could have a game of
tennis with Boris Johnson.
is evidence of corruption in the way
that gentleman obtained his wealth,
then it is well within... It is
possible to deprive him of his
wealth, with an unexplained wealth
order. That is a matter for the
authorities, not for me, and it's
important that because people are
e-mailing me from Russia, who feel
I agree with that.
Russians themselves are in no way
the object of our wrath.
tennis game actually happen?
Do you know enough about the origins
of that money? And she has now paid
£30,000 to sit next to Gavin
Williamson and have dinner with him,
I happy about that?
is produced against individual
Russians, I don't think the entire
nation should be...
It is a
difficult balance I absolutely agree
with that but...
There are many
Russians who have gone to this
country, made their lives here and
contributed magnificently to our
culture and society. They feel
I understand that, but
on the other hand, let me remind you
what the widow of Alexander
Litvinenko said, she said the
Conservatives need to be selective
who they are friends with. When you
allow people with money to come to
your country and make a business,
you need to be sure what kind of
money these people bring to your
country. All I'm saying is it is
very difficult to know the source of
the money you take.
That's why we
have the national Crime Agency, we
have the national economic crime
unit. That's what they are there to
do. They are there to get to the
bottom of whether somebody's wealth
has been obtained corruptly or not
but it is important we do not allow
my as of suspicion about all
Russians in London and indeed all
which Russians in London to be
created. Some of them may have
obtained their wealth by... And I
have to say it is quite
extraordinary at a time when you
have two people lying gravely ill in
hospital, in Salisbury, when a
police officer is still not out of
hospital, for the fire somehow to be
turned on Conservative Party
funding. To the best of my
knowledge, all possible checks have
been made and they will continue to
You will have seen the
story this morning about Cambridge
and this data collection company in
trouble for harvesting information
from Facebook and using it to target
potential voters. They were involved
in the Brexit referendum and
American elections as well, they
have been summoned back to the House
of Commons, do you think there
should be a proper investigation
I've got to be honest, it
is not something I have focused on
but again, the general point, if
there is some crime, I'm sure the
law will follow its course.
Brexit select committee has
suggested we may have to delay the
trigger of Article 50 because we are
not ready, what is your response?
don't think that is true and we are
making great progress in the
negotiations and I hope we will get
a good deal on implementation period
in March. House of Commons voted
overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50
and let's get on with it.
report today says our border
arrangements simply won't be ready
in time, are you concerned the thing
is going to slip?
No, I think what
most people in this country want,
whether they voted to leave or
remain, they want us to get on with
it and do it.
Why did you write a
letter to the Prime Minister saying
there might be a hard Irish border?
What I said, I don't wish to...
have the quote here. It is wrong to
see our task is maintaining no
border. Even if the hard border is
reintroduced we would expect 95% of
goods to pass... So you used the
phrase hard border twice because
It's the policy
of the Government not to have a hard
border and that's what we will
produce. The Prime Minister in her
speech produced a number of
solutions for the avoidance of a
hard border and that's what I was
You said you were going
to publish the letter, when are you
going to do that?
We do not... It's
up to the media organisations that
leaked a part of it, if they choose
You said you were going to.
You have changed your mind.
not as a matter of course respond to
leaks by putting holding in the
public domain but I can assure you
the letter said the exact opposite
of what you claimed it said.
just read a bit of it, these are
words and words mean things and so
As it happens they don't mean
what you want them to mean.
Government's aim should be to stop
this border from big coming
significantly harder -- from
becoming significantly harder.
What I was saying is
clearly in line with what the
Government as a whole has been
saying for a long time which is
there is no need to have a hard
border. There are ways of avoiding
it, as the Prime Minister said in
her excellent Mansion House speech
and I suggest you quote that and
OK, do you think Russia
intervened in the Brexit referendum?
I have no evidence of that.
in the past you don't think they
I have no
evidence they successfully
On last Brexit
related question, we haven't spoken
for little while, as one of the
great cheerleaders for Brexit, when
you look at what's happening now and
the fact the European Court will
have some influence on us after we
leave, that we will be paying money
into some agencies and the timescale
of this, are you completely cheerful
it has turned out as you wanted?
do, I think the Mansion House speech
was a great step forward and I think
it shows exactly the type of deal we
want to get. We are not going to
have the influence of the European
Court of Justice. I don't know why
you are saying this BBC claptrap. We
are not going to be paying in after
we leave. Yes, there will be on
implementation period but after we
come out we will have what is
effectively a gigantic free-trade
deal with all sorts of bolt ons and
the advantage of the new
arrangements, as the Prime Minister
said at Mansion House, is that it
will be possible for either side to
do things in their own way and there
will be an independent arbitration
panel that will be able to decide...
Can I finish the point. There will
be an independent arbitration panel
that will be able to decide whether
or not there is a distortion of
trade. On money, borders and laws,
you are seeing the fulfilment of the
pledged to take back control.
have run out of time. Boris Johnson
for now, thank you.
Now a look at what's coming up
straight after this programme.
In Brighton at ten o'clock, we are
asking whether the people should
have the final say on the terms of
the Brexit deal. As the case of baby
Alfie Evans is referred to the
Supreme Court, should doctors have
the final decision?
We're out of time,
thanks to all my guests.
Harold Wilson used to say that
a week was a long time in politics -
it feels like a lifetime just now.
I have no idea what we'll
have for you next week.
See you then.
Interviews with Boris Johnson MP, secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, and Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU. Newspapers are reviewed by Owen Jones, columnist in the Guardian, and Jane Moore from the Sun.