02:25 GMT +316 July 2018
Listen Live
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

    UK-Russian Relations to See No Change Under Johnson's Successor – Tory Lawmaker

    © Sputnik / Alexey Filippov
    World
    Get short URL
    2 0 0

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK-Russian relations will unlikely see any change with the departure of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the appointment of Jeremy Hunt to replace him, as disagreements between the two countries are deep and serious, a Conservative member of the UK Parliament, John Whittingdale, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    "I think you will see no change. Boris Johnson talked about that in his resignation letter and Jeremy already mentioned it in terms of his agenda. We have serious differences of opinion with Russia. We have a particular issue around the Novichok attacks taking place in Britain. We need to talk to Russia and we asked Russia to cooperate with us. I think that position will remain unchanged," Whittingdale said.

    READ MORE: UK Political Crisis May Pave Way for New Brexit Referendum, Ex-EU Adviser Says

    The lawmaker, who held the post of secretary of state for culture, media and sport in 2015-2016, also expressed confidence that Hunt would successfully cope with the new job, despite possible lack of previous experience in foreign affairs.

    "[Jeremy Hunt ] is a good solid Conservative. He has done a good job as health secretary. This is a big job he has got. I am not sure how much experience he has in foreign affairs but I have every confidence he will do it well," he noted.

    Whittingdale also commented on new Brexit secretary Raab, calling him a "very good successor" to Davis.

    "I know new Secretary very well. He campaigned with me in favor of 'Leave'. I am sad that David Davis departed but Dominique will be a very good successor. He will be a strong voice and that is what we need. I welcome his appointment," he pointed out.

    An early election in the United Kingdom after a string of cabinet resignations is a very undesirable scenario since it would create uncertainty and make the goal of reaching a compromise on a Brexit agreement with the European Union by the fall deadline almost unattainable, John Whittingdale said.

    "Firstly, it only just over one year since we had an election. Certainly, I think, both members of the parliament and even more so the British public do not want another election. The other factor in this is that we set a clock ticking so Britain will leave on March 29, 2019. That is not far off and as the EU's objective getting an agreement by October-November — that is a very short time. To have a leadership election and all the uncertainty and disruption that would follow would make that impossible. So, I do not favor an early election," Whittingdale said.

    The lawmaker, who also held the post of secretary of state for culture, media and sport in 2015-2016, stressed that he was against either an early election or a leadership contest for these reasons, even though he did "remain very unhappy with the policies."

    READ MORE: UK Conservative Party's Pro-Brexit Members Losing Confidence in May — Poll

    Whittingdale clarified that he was strongly committed to Brexit but had serious concerns that the Brexit deal could lead to the United Kingdom continuing being bound by EU rules and regulations, with the country having no say in shaping them.

    "I supported leaving because I wanted Britain no longer to be banned by judgments in Europe and in particular rules setting Europe, which I think have prevented us from competing. Therefore, I am unhappy with any agreement which allows Europe still to set rules which we have to follow even if we no longer have any say on those rules. To that extent, I am very unhappy with the agreement that has been put forward and I take the same view as Boris Jonson and David Davis," he said.

    The lawmaker expressed regret over the resignations of the "very able ministers," noting, however, that he "applauded" their decision to do so "as a matter of principle."

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned on Monday, less than a day after the departure of Brexit Minister David Davis. Both resignations were caused by disagreements with May's plan for exiting the European Union, discussed by the cabinet on Friday. Johnson and Davis were replaced by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former housing minister Dominic Raab.

    Russian-UK relations significantly deteriorated in March over the attempted poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK city of Salisbury. The United Kingdom accused Russia of being involved in the attack. Moscow has refuted the allegations and repeatedly pointed to the lack of evidence provided by London.

    In his resignation letter, Johnson cited the solidarity demonstrated by UK allies who expelled Russian diplomats over the Salisbury incident as an example of success. Newly-appointed foreign secretary Hunt, in turn, has already praised his predecessor for orchestrating "an incredibly important response" to the Salisbury incident.

    On Monday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson blamed another nerve agent attack involving two people on Moscow. The attack took place in the UK city of Amesbury in late June and led to the death of a British woman. The secretary did not provide any evidence either.

    The Russian Embassy to the United Kingdom said that Moscow would consider the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents to be anti-Russia provocations by London if the latter did not provide it with access to the investigation materials, as well as to the Skripals.

    The 2016 UK referendum in favor of exiting the EU has left the United Kingdom divided almost equally between "Remainers" and "Brexiteers." The economic partnership model and the Irish border issue have proven to be the most contentious matters both in Brexit talks with Brussels and debates within the UK cabinet.

    Related:

    Theresa May Warns UK Must Be Ready for 'No Deal Brexit' Amid Cabinet Havoc
    Labour Shadow Brexit Sec Rejects PM's Plan Calls it a "Bureaucratic Nightmare"
    UK Brexit Proposals Have to 'Stand up to a Reality Check' - Professor
    Tags:
    Brexit, relations, Boris Johnson, Russia, United Kingdom
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment