Tony Lloyd – 2022 Speech on Support for Ukraine

The speech made by Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Rochdale, in the House of Commons on 2 March 2022.

Can I begin, as others have done, by expressing my admiration for the role that the Ukrainian armed forces—sometimes irregular, sometimes regular—have played? Most of us have been astonished by the resistance they have been able to put up, and I think that that astonishment applies in Moscow as well. Along with that, I want to add my genuine appreciation for the Defence Secretary and the Defence team, who have been exemplary in the way in which they have operated to ensure that we are supporting the capacity of the Ukrainians to defend their own country. That has been absolutely fundamental, and it is a leading example of how we as a nation ought to behave, so well done there. I wish I could be quite as complimentary about the role of our sanctions regime, because we are playing catch-up there. It is a matter of fact that the EU has sanctioned far more individuals than we have, including two who have major UK interests, Alisher Usmanov and Mikhail Fridman. We have not sanctioned those individuals, and it is astonishing that we are seeing the EU sanctioning those with assets here when we do not.

Something else that we now have to look at seriously is the way in which our legal system has been acting to defend the interests of those around Putin and the oligarchs who base their moneys here. An example is the ability to prevent journalists from examining the truth. Inquisitive journalism is fundamental to outing the role of dirty money in the City of London, as we must do. That is a matter of national shame, but we are playing catch-up on that as well. I hope that Ministers will take that message on board, because it is now time now to do this. I think there is consensus that we can do it, but it is not just about the dirty money; it is also about those who protect that dirty money in our society. I think there is consensus around that.

I am also bound to reflect on the potential, even now, for the flow of refugees. We do not know how this situation is going to end. We do not know what will make Mr Putin and those around him pull back from this level of adventurism, and because we do not know that, we have to assume that things will get massively worse and that the flow of refugees will get worse. If the flow of refugees does get worse, and if we are talking about the potential for many millions of refugees, the UK clearly has to be prepared to respond.