On this week’s episode, we look at the situation with Russia, and whether diplomatic relations have been poisoned. We also discuss the bullying scandal in Westminster and consider whether sledging in cricket has gone too far.
The nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury has led to an outbreak of antagonism between Britain and Russia. Theresa May has now expelled a host of Russian diplomats, but can anything be done to stop Putin’s assault on Western values? That’s the question Owen Matthews asks in the magazine this week, and he joins the podcast along with Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs select committee, and then former Foreign Minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, joins us. As Owen writes:
“Putin lies, barefacedly and repeatedly. So do his acolytes. Even when the forensic evidence is massive and incontrovertible, Putin tells palpable falsehoods with easy fluency. In March 2014 he insisted that there were no Russian troops in Crimea, claiming that ‘anyone could buy’ Russian military uniforms. Within a month, he publicly thanked the troops that had participated in the annexation. With equal ease, he reversed himself on the presence of regular Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine — after two years of denying they were there, Putin casually acknowledged the truth in 2016.”
Two bullying scandals have descended on Westminster this week, one involving the Speaker, John Bercow, and the other seeing Debbie Abrahams step down from shadowing the DWP brief. Has Parliament not learned its lesson after the sleaze revelations at the end of last year? Or is the focus on bullying just further evidence of the toxic atmosphere in Parliament? Katy Balls has written for Coffee House about the latest revelations, and she joins the pod along with the Financial Times’ Laura Hughes.