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21 May, 2018 11:26

Russian ‘dirty money’ report sparks rift between Tory MPs

Russian ‘dirty money’ report sparks rift between Tory MPs

Security Minister Ben Wallace has criticized Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat, a Tory, after he “failed” to ask him to give evidence on the influence of Russia’s alleged ‘dirty money’ in the UK.

Tugendhat wrote, in a tweet which accompanied an article he penned in the Times: “If we’re going to confront the growing spread of instability and corruption coming from the Kremlin we’re going to have to look closer to home.”

In response, Wallace tweeted: "Interesting trail on your report Tom but you failed to ask the Minister for economic crime and lead on money laundering to give evidence. Also remember until we leave the EU we can’t impose “unilateral” sanctions in the same way the US can."

In his Times article, Tugendhat discloses that “in evidence to the committee we heard from experts in the region who pointed to the link between oligarchs’ wealth and the power of the Kremlin.” So while ‘experts’ have given evidence, the committee obviously didn't feel the need to ascertain the government's current observations and strategy to counter the effect of Russian ‘dirty money’ in the UK, much to Wallace’s apparent annoyance.

READ MORE: Dirty money or dirty politics? UK hypocrisy over ‘Russian oligarchs’ 

In a BBC Radio 4 interview this morning, Tugendhat tried to defend the committee’s decision not to call a relevant minister, such as Wallace to give evidence, insisting that he had been in contact with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who had approved such an omission.

This latest public display of discontent on social media between Tory MPs follows Brexit conflict coming to the fore between pro-remain Conservatives and hardline Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg. A party normally so disciplined when it comes to not openly attacking colleagues, appears to be loosening its comradely belt.

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