Calls for ‘foreign powers act’ to limit Russian influence as Lords face investigation over links
- Bob Seeley said politicians had to apply ‘good judgement’ in the national interest
- MP warned politicians must not be ‘paid influencers for others’ such as Russia
- Questions have been raised about Lord Barker’s chairman role with En+
The demand came amid concern at Lord Greg Barker’s (file image) role as chairman of energy firm EN+, a Russian firm targeted by US sanctions
Britain needs a ‘foreign powers act’ to limit Russian influence in the UK a Tory MP claimed today as a former minister faces questions over ties to the Kremlin.
MP Bob Seeley said politicians had to apply ‘good judgement’ in the national interest and not be ‘paid influencers for others’.
His demand came amid concern at Lord Greg Barker’s role as chairman of energy firm EN+, a Russian firm targeted by US sanctions since the Salisbury attack.
Security Minister Ben Wallace has turned down a request for a meeting with Lord Barker, an energy minister under David Cameron, about the sanctions.
Mr Seeley said the current informal rules on what peers are allowed to do were ‘vague’ and based on ‘personal honour’.
Writing in The Times he said: ‘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.
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‘Russia is trying to damage the credibility of democracy. If it can create division, it will do so.
‘Naive peers being flattered into saying and doing things generates ”useful idiots”, Lenin’s term for those who helped the Soviet state in the 1920s and 1930s.
‘It’s clear that we need a foreign agents act, which lists people and organisations who act for foreign states or their proxies in influencing government and public policy. The US has had such an act since 1938.’
MP Bob Seeley (file image) said politicians had to apply ‘good judgement’ in the national interest and not be ‘paid influencers for others’
En+, the Russian energy giant majority-owned by the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Putin.
En+ and Mr Deripaska have been subject to sanctions since the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March.
Lord Barker has been chairman of the firm since 2016. Mr Wallace said he had been asked for a meeting ‘requesting government assistance for Russian associates’, The Times reported yesterday.
Lord Barker told the paper: ‘I have never lobbied the UK government or requested assistance from any member of either of the Houses of Parliament.’
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