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Selling out the rule of law

Boris Johnson with oligarch Evgeny Lebedev in 2009. Dave Benett/Getty

Liz Truss received glowing coverage for her claim that Roman Abramovich and other oligarchs have “blood on their hands” over Ukraine, says Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times. I have a simple question for the Foreign Secretary: “What planet have you been on these past 10 years?” During successive Conservative governments, ministers have rolled out the red carpet for dodgy Russians, allowing the City to be “transformed into a money-laundering operation”. But it isn’t just the Tories, it’s “almost the entire political class”. It was New Labour which presided over the golden visa scheme, allowing foreigners to secure residency in Britain in exchange for big investments.

And nor is it just Russia. In our desperation to buy cheap gear we allowed the Chinese Communist Party to “infiltrate key infrastructure and loot intellectual property”. It’s as if we think the rule of law is a switch that we can turn on and off “at our convenience”. But our laws and the values they protect are not “optional extras; they are our most precious cultural inheritance”. By welcoming dirty money we were not showing cunning, we were “engaged in national self-harm”. And we are now showing ourselves to be hypocrites, “talking of democratic values out of one side of our mouths and trashing them with the other”. Never has it been more urgent that we defend our values, and the likes of Truss “would do well to demonstrate contrition alongside all that synthetic anger”.