Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt hints at action amid calls for luxury goods export ban to Russia

TRADE minister Penny Mordaunt has suggested the UK could take action against exports of luxury goods to Russia, amid calls for a total ban.

By Tom Cotterill
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 5:18 pm
Penny Mordaunt Portsmouth North MP
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-12)
Penny Mordaunt Portsmouth North MP Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-12)

The Portsmouth North MP told MPs it was ‘quite wrong’ for Italy to seek a ‘carve out’ from EU sanctions on these products, although the Italian government has denied it made such a request.

Ms Mordaunt added Russia must ‘pay the price’ for its ‘barbaric war’ with Ukraine and insisted the UK’s policies will do that.

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was earlier heckled by Labour after failing to commit to an export ban on luxury goods to Russia.

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Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds pressed Ms Trevelyan to work with her ministerial colleagues and EU allies on clothing, jewellery and diamonds to get a ‘comprehensive ban in place to stop Putin and his inner circle living in luxury while barbaric evil acts are perpetrated on the people of Ukraine’.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Mordaunt told Labour MP Bill Esterson: ‘On the issue of luxury goods, there are clearly many products that have been exported to not just Russia but other countries that are supporting Russia’s appalling barbaric war.

‘There are obviously complex legal obligations surrounding that. That is why this department has stood up the exports support service.

‘There was much criticism of Italy’s carve out on these products. I think that was quite wrong and clearly our objective is very clear: Russia has to pay the price for this barbaric war and our policies will do that.’

Ms Trevelyan said foreign secretary Liz Truss will ‘continue to work on a number of areas’, also telling MPs: ‘We will continue to work across government to make sure that we’re using both our UK powers but working with allies across the world to tighten the screws so Putin and his regime will find it more and more difficult both to sustain their military campaigns but also that they will no longer have access to their funds.’

Ms Trevelyan faced shouts of ‘answer the question’ from Labour frontbencher Gareth Thomas as she failed to directly address the issue a second time.

Mr Esterson later said: ‘When the secretary of state answered the question about luxury goods by not answering it she begged the question of why not and just raised that question about whether it’s conflicts of interests behind it.

‘Because when she says that, the contrast with Syria is stark where export controls were put in place.

‘So if for Syria it was appropriate, why not with Russia?’

Ms Mordaunt opened her reply by saying: ‘I’d just say as someone who has been personally threatened by Alexander Temerko that (Mr Esterson) is quite wrong to make insinuations about Members of Parliament in that respect.

‘If we’re going to assist this situation, if we’re going to stop those who are enemies of this state and if we’re going to have clean politics at both ends of this House we need to focus on individuals, their moral obligations of what they have and haven’t done.’

The minister then proceeded to address the matter of luxury items.

In January, Conservative Party donor Mr Temerko – who was behind a blocked £1.2bn cross-Channel power cable project by Aquind in Portsmouth – threatened to take legal action against the government and Ms Morduant.

Ms Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, has campaigned against Aquind’s proposed electricity link between Portsmouth and Normandy.

Mr Temerko is a British citizen who was born in the former Soviet Union and is a director of the company.

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