Vladimir Putin is in a “total panic” about the prospect of a revolution in Moscow, Boris Johnson has said.
“He has been in a total panic about a so-called colour revolution in Moscow itself and that is why he is trying so brutally to snuff out the flame of freedom in Ukraine and that’s why it is so vital that he fails,” Mr Johnson said.
“A victorious Putin will not stop in Ukraine, and the end of freedom in Ukraine will mean the extinction of any hope of freedom in Georgia and then Moldova, it will mean the beginning of a new age of intimidation across eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea.”
The Prime Minister also rejected normalising relations with Mr Putin, even after the end of his invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a turning point for the world. It’s a choice between freedom and oppression,” he told the Conservative spring party conference in Blackpool.
“To try to renormalise relations with Putin after this, as we did in 2014, would be to make exactly the same mistake again.”
Johnson describes Putin as ‘a backstreet pusher’
The Prime Minister has described Putin as a “a backstreet pusher, feeding addiction, creating dependence” on Russia’s gas and oil, leading to the cost of living crisis.
“Putin’s war is intended to cause economic damage to the west and to benefit him,” Boris Johnson told the conference.
“He knows that with every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil, he gets billions more in revenues from the sales of either oil and gas, and that’s the tragedy of the situation.
“Now he wants to weaken the collective will to resist by pushing up the cost of living, hitting us at the pumps and in our fuel bills, so we must respond.”
He said the Government must continue to do “everything they can” to help people, and also make sure there is a “strong economy and strong economic fundamentals with well-paid jobs”.
‘It’s the Conservatives who stand up for freedom’
Concluding his speech, the Prime Minister said: “It’s the Conservatives who stand up for freedom and against the blackmail of Putin.”
“Because we know that it’s only by sticking up for freedom that we can deliver long term prosperity and security.”
Nicola Sturgeon has ‘no positive ideas’: Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross has argued that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP has no “positive ideas” to help Scotland on any of the big issues facing its people, reports Simon Johnson.
He says his party’s aim must be to replace them in government at the next Holyrood election rather than being the main opposition party.
He says: “People concerned right now about the cost-of-living crisis, concerned right now about long waiting times in our NHS, concerned about the education we are giving to the next generation.
“And they all know that independence is not the answer to any of those problems.
“Not once did I hear anyone say that they wanted an independence referendum next year. Not once.
“They want a government that’s totally focused on the NHS, on jobs, on education, on their priorities.
“There are so many people who are looking for anyone who can step up and beat them, who can remove this SNP Government, who can kick Nicola Sturgeon out of Bute House.
“Because coming second place, being the largest opposition, is not enough.
End dependence on Putin’s oil and gas: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has urged nations to end their dependency on Russian oil and gas as it allows Vladimir Putin to squeeze the Western cost of living.
“There is a cost to our sanctions. But the cost of doing nothing would be far, far higher,” the PM said.
“Now Putin wants to weaken to weaken the collective will to resist by pushing up the cost of living. Hitting us at the pumps and in our fuel bills.”
“It is time to take back control of our energy supplies.”
Boris Johnson rejects renormalisation of relations with Putin
Boris Johnson has rejected normalising relations with Vladimir Putin, even after the end of his invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a turning point for the world. It’s a choice between freedom and oppression,” he said.
“To try to renormalise relations with Putin after this, as we did in 2014, would be to make exactly the same mistake again.”
“I know it is the instinct of the people of this country to choose freedom every time.”
Putin afraid of Ukrainian freedom: Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine because he fears free societies.
“We stand with the Ukrainian people and our hearts go out to them,” the Prime Minister told the Ukrainian ambassador. “It is clear Putin made a catastrophic mistake.”
“He didn’t really believe the semi-mystical guff he wrote about the origins of the Russian people. I don’t know if you read it. Nostradamus meets Russian Wikipedia,” he quipped.
“He was frightened of Ukraine because in Ukraine they have free press. They have free elections. And with every year Ukraine progressed towards freedom and democracy and open markets, he feared the Ukrainian example and the implicit reproach to himself.”
“Because in Putin’s Russia you get jailed for 15 years just for calling an invasion an invasion, and if you stand against Putin in an election you get poisoned or shot.”
Mr Putin was in a “total panic” about the prospect of a revolution in Moscow, Mr Johnson added.
Putin ‘shattered our post-Cold War complacency’
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has “shattered our post-Cold War complacency”, reports our chief political correspondent Camilla Turner.
She said we “cannot and will not” rest until we see Ukraine’s sovereignty restored, and told delegates that she has heard some people in Ukraine “sing God Save The Queen” as they use British military equipment.
Ms Truss said: “When we’re facing a tyrant like Vladimir Putin, the only thing he understands is strength.”
She went on to tell delegates: “Now is the time to end the culture of self-doubt, the constant self-questioning and introspection – the ludicrous debates about languages, statues and pronouns. Our history, warts and all, is what makes us what we are today.”
‘This crisis has shown the strength of the free world’
Liz Truss used her speech to reiterate the Conservative commitment to freedom.
“This crisis has shown the strength of the free world,” she said. “When people are free to choose, they choose freedom.”
“We live in a great country, a great democracy and we should be proud of it.”
Concluding our speech, Ms Truss said: “Putin must fail and with Britain at the front, we will ensure he does.”
‘Everyone in Britain is saying Slava Ukraini’
Addressing Vadym Prystaiko, Liz Truss said: “Ambassador, everyone in Britain is saying Slava Ukraini.”
‘We stand up for freedom’: Liz Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has vowed to continue standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine until their sovereignty is restored.
“We stand up for freedom. We fight bullies. We galvanise our allies around the world,” she said.
“We cannot stand by to see freedom repressed and see the clock turned back to the horrific oppression of the Soviet era. We cannot and we will not rest until Ukraine’s sovereignty is restored.”
Ukrainian ambassador receives standing ovation
Concluding his speech in Blackpool, Ben Wallace welcomed Ukraine’s ambassador Vadym Prystaiko to a raucous standing ovation from all those in attendance.
Alister Jack praises Freeports scheme
Alister Jack describes how he managed to win over the “initially sceptical” SNP to back the UK Government’s Freeports scheme, with two to be delivered in Scotland, reports Simon Johnson.
“Something you would have thought all parties in Scotland would welcome. Sadly there is still one that doesn’t: the Scottish Greens,” he says, renewing his attack on Nicola Sturgeon entering a coalition with them.
“It just shows how irresponsible it was for the SNP to invite into government a party that is fundamentally opposed to economic growth.
“Even some people in the SNP are beginning to realise what a disastrous mistake that was.”
Scotland rightly expects their two governments to work together: Alister Jack
Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is giving his speech to the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen, reports Simon Johnson.
He said: “The people of Scotland rightly expect their two governments to work together because they understand it is the best way to unlock the potential of devolution. Now, it is not always easy to work with this SNP-Green Scottish Government.
“Of course it can be difficult trying to deliver the benefits of devolution alongside a Nationalist administration in Edinburgh that does not believe in devolution.
An administration whose politics demand constant friction with the UK Government and a freshly brewed grievance every morning. They may not be able to manufacture a ferry, ladies and gentlemen, but they sure know how to manufacture a grievance.”
‘Arrogant’ Putin responsible for deaths of Russians
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace compared Vladimir Putin to the leader of Argentina during the Falklands War 40 years ago.
He said that like Leopoldo Galtieri, Mr Putin had sent young soldiers to die for his own political reasons.
“Just like in 1982, Putin’s arrogant assumptions have directly led to the casualties and attrition among the Russian army,” Mr Wallace told the Tory spring conference in Blackpool.
“The Kremlin assumed that Ukraine would not fight – he was wrong. The Kremlin assumed his army was invincible – they were wrong.
“And they assumed the international community would splinter and they’ve been proven wrong.”
Mr Wallace said that during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, mothers of those killed in action called the dead their “boys in zinc” because of the metal coffins they used.
“None of us should let today’s Russian president forget to despite dozens of presidents and prime ministers urging him not to invade, the international community’s calls for peace, he chose zinc.”
Priti Patel defends refugee checks
Priti Patel has defended the Home Office’s checks on Ukrainian refugees saying it is “naive” to believe that only men can pose a threat to the UK’s security as she warns of heightened threat of chemical, biological and cyber attacks from Russia.
“I’ve been asked why couldn’t we suspend security checks on people escaping Putin’s war?” she said.
“Times of conflict, my friends, emphasises our need to remain watchful. I know from the briefings I receive from the intelligence and security services that instability around the world brings with it greater threats.”
“Only four years ago, the Russian military intelligence services used a chemical weapon on British soil – it happened in Salisbury, whose inhabitants would have felt completely safe.”
She added: “The truth is that a very small number of people can wreak utter havoc and Russia has a history of covert, hostile activity.”
“And I’m afraid it is naive and misguided to think that only men can be covert operatives or that refugee flows would not be subject to some form of exploitation.”
“There are those who would come to our country, to this country, who would mean us harm and plot to strike at our very way of life.”
Illegal entry will ‘impact on asylum claims’ announces Priti Patel
Priti Patel has announced that illegal entry to the UK will impact on asylum claims made by migrants
“Access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need and not the ability to pay people smugglers. If you enter the UK illegally, via a safe country where you could have claimed asylum, you’re not seeking refuge from peril, but picking the UK as a preferred destination,” she said.
“For the first time, whether you enter the UK legally or illegally will impact on how your asylum claim progresses and on your status in the UK if your claim is successful.”
Ms Patel also announced that the maximum sentence for people smuggling will increase from 15 years to life.
‘No kleptocrat will be able to hide behind a UK shell company’
The Home Secretary has said the UK will tighten controls on the UK financial system, including in the areas of money-laundering and cryptocurrency.
“No criminal or kleptocrat will be able to hide behind a UK shell company ever again,” she vowed.
‘We will open our homes and hearts to Ukrainians’
Priti Patel reiterated in her speech that the UK is open to Ukrainian refugees.
“The British government and the people of the United Kingdom are utterly determined that Putin will fail in his war and that we will open our homes and our hearts to Ukrainians,” she said.
“We will always stand for freedom and the values that are fundamental to our way of life.”
“As Ukrainians know as hell rains upon them, the United Kingdom stands with them in their hour of need.”
Priti Patel pays tribute to Polish response to refugee crisis
Home Secretary Priti Patel has hailed the “incredible” repsonse by Poland to the refugee crisis.
“A few weeks ago I was on the Polish border with Ukraine. What I saw was a human tragedy on a heart-breaking and unprecedented scale,” she said.
“What I also saw was the incredible response of our dear friends in Poland. From the government to volunteers who have mobilised an incredible response to welcome and manage refugees.”
“I saw the most remarkable humanitarian work from the government and people of Poland. I have to tell you, it broke my heart.”
UK is ‘self-sufficient’ when it comes to wheat
George Eustice concluded his speech by highlighting the need to keep supply chains open in order to ensure the world can remain fed despite Ukraine’s wheat harvest being impacted by the invasion.
“In Ukraine today, the determination to get this year’s crop in the ground shows that Ukraine is a country that believes in its future and that refuses to give up,” he said.
“There is over 200 million tonnes of wheat in storage around the world at the moment. Those who operate the market need to be able to move stocks around freely in order to satisfy global demand.”
“The UK is largely self-sufficient in wheat production,” he added “But we are working with like-minded countries around the world to ensure the free flow continues.”
George Eustice hails Ukrainian ‘tenacity’
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has kicked off day two of the Conservative spring conference by paying tribute to the “tenacity” of Ukrainians and in particular the country’s farmers.
“In recent weeks, we’ve all been moved by the incredible courage of Ukraine’s president, the extraordinary bravery of the Ukrainian army and the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people,” he said.
“We have also seen the morale-boosting sight of Ukrainian farmers towing away Russian tanks with their tractors, just one of the many symbols of Ukraine’s extraordinary tenacity.”
Boris Johnson warms up for conference speech
Government ‘revolted’ by P&O sackings
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said there was “revulsion” about P&O Ferries’ actions in sacking 800 staff.
He told Times Radio the Government was trying to establish whether the move was legal.
“That is why the Transport Secretary (Grant Shapps) has asked the Insolvency Service to look at the notification requirements, for example, and see whether further action is appropriate,” Mr Dowden said.
“All of us feel, frankly, a revulsion at the kind of sharp practices from P&O. There has been a complete lack of engagement, a lack of prior notice or indeed any empathy whatsoever for the workers.”
The Government has already said it is reviewing all contracts it has with P&O Ferries and its owner DP World.
“I think they should be in no doubt that the Government is considering very closely its relationship with them,” Mr Dowden said.