Andrew Marr serves an ace as Boris Johnson flounders over Russian donation

Andrew Marr and Boris Johnson 18 March BBC
Stefan Schmid

Boris Johnson has come under fire over Russian donations to the Conservatives. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on 18 March, the foreign secretary struggled to explain away some rather large donations his party had received. Particularly an eye-watering £160,000 for a game of tennis.

Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of former Russian deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin, paid £160,000 in 2014 for the honour of a tennis match with Johnson and then-PM David Cameron. Cameron rejected calls to give back the money at the time, claiming it was “not the right approach”.

Chernukhin, who is now a British citizen, also recently paid £30,000 to have dinner with defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

Tough questions

Johnson originally tried to dodge the question put forward by Marr. But the BBC host cornered him. Highlighting the awards given to Chernukhin by Putin himself, Marr said:

This lady’s husband was a minister of Vladamir Putin, and was given an award by Vladamir 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.

The Foreign Secretary floundered, claiming that dirty money was a matter for the authorities, not him:

If there is evidence of gross corruption in the way that gentleman you mentioned obtained his wealth, then it is, then it is well… it is possible for our law enforcement agencies to deprive him of his wealth… of his unexplained wealth.

That is a matter for the authorities, that is not a matter for me.

Marr asked several times whether the game happened. Johnson eventually replied:

It did.

“Not a great look”

Twitter users were quick to highlight the hypocrisy of the Conservatives’ stance on Russia:

Theresa May’s government continues to talk tough on Russia. But it seems the trail of donations that are being uncovered may come back to bite them. Second serve…

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