Jacob Rees-Mogg has publicly criticised Germany’s refusal to allow the UK to fly in their airspace to transport military aid to Ukraine. To Guido’s knowledge he is the first member of the government to do so publicly:
“The divisions within the west are quite serious, I mean it’s extraordinary that Germany would not allow British flights to fly over German territory to take some weapons to the Ukrainians”
This is far from the line the government’s taken thus far. At Lobby last week, the PM’s spokesperson was at pains to deny any diplomatic tensions, claiming reports Germany denied a request by the UK were “not accurate”. Press were told the UK hadn’t made a request in the first place. It was immediately pointed out the UK hadn’t made such a request because it would inevitably be rejected.
Ben Wallace almost sounded like he was defending Germany at the foreign affairs committee yesterday:
“I also want to put on the record that there’s alot of speculation about the German air route.
When we were planning the deploymentof lethal aid to Ukraine,obviously we needed to do that with asignificant amount of operational security,and therefore the timelines were tight when we decidedthat we had to clear those routes and the German system,and the indication from my planners and the impressionI had was that the German systemwould take nearly two weeks to do, and therefore there was no point asking to do that.
We did not go and ask, they did not rebuff us.Yes, it is in the public domain that the Germans arevery against the use of lethal aid in Ukraine,and we obviously have a different opinion,which is why we have done that, but no,there was no ‘we asked and you rebutted’. That is not correct.
We wanted the quickest way – I don’t mean in geography,but in clearances in order to get the weapon systems into Ukraine.”
Once again it seems a case of Rees-Mogg abandoning the official government line, though speaking total sense…
SW1 will be crestfallen to hear Claudia Webbe is being kicked off the Foreign Affairs select committee, before she’d even had one chance to ask Liz Truss any questions about ‘Be’rus’. The news, confirmed in today’s Order Paper, is hardly surprising; even ignoring her recent harassment conviction, figures out last month showed her to have the worst attendance of any FCO committee member, turning up to just 18 out of 39 meetings. Is there no legal action Tom Tugendhat can take for her shirking of duties?
Meanwhile Diane Abbott is set to join the Justice Committee after Tory MPs’ plan to install her as chair of the Home Affairs Committee failed. Thankfully she’ll be able to draw on her familial experience of the justice system…
UPDATE: Skwawkbox points out that Webbe joined the Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2020, several months after other members. Figures for the 2021-2022 session reveal that “much-disliked Labour right-winger Neil Coyle“, who joined the Committee at the same time as Webbe, is in fact its most truant member. Coyle has attended just 7 of the 18 meetings, while Webbe has put in the legwork and showed up to 12. This is despite Coyle not having to take time off to appear in Court as a defendant. Guido is more than happy to correct the record, and thanks Skwawkbox for their help.
Claudia Webbe was back for yet another Foreign Affairs Select Committee appearance this afternoon, once again taking Dominic Raab to task with the hard-hitting questions no one else is brave enough to ask. Raab’s look of total bemusement at “What is your understanding of civil wars in Afghanistan” was one particular highlight. “Claudia, this is just nonsense” was another…
Guido always looks forward to Claudia Webbe’s Foreign Affairs Committee appearances, ever since she suggested the UK is no worse than Iran, only to get deflated by Raab’s ‘having to explain the obvious’ act. Yesterday she asked a question even she didn’t understand…
After the floor opened up, Claudia questioned Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary:
“Why does the government not consider legal action to be necessary in the case of Belarus?”
A dry-as-ever Raab asked her to clarify, “what is the legal action you’re proposing?”. After more waffle from Webbe, Raab specified:
“What I was trying to clarify is who do you want us to sue and where?”
Guido presumed Claudia would be more familiar with the details of legal action these days…
The Tories are calling for Jeremy Corbyn to be hauled before the Foreign Affairs select committee to face questions over his links to a Czech spymaster. David Morris has written to FASC chairman Tom Tugendhat asking him to bring Agent COB in for an evidence session to “allow the facts to be established and individuals to clear their name”. Here’s the letter:
Dear Mr Tugendhat,
It has recently been widely reported in the National Media that the leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP had fraternised with a Soviet Bloc Czech Spymaster in the late 1980s. Included in the reports are statements made by the former spy master from the StB – the Statni Bezpecnost, Jan Sarkocy. These statements come from the man who was based in the Czech Embassy in London at the time and who should therefore be in a position to have some authority on the issue.
Given that it is widely accepted the Czech intelligence service had a track record of successfully penetrating Parliament – including the recruitment of at least two senior Labour MP’s – John Stonehouse and Will Owen there are strong grounds to warrant further investigation of these reports.
We are fortunate that a number of former Soviet Bloc Intelligence agencies have had their files preserved. The Stasi of the DDR have had many of their records preserved and they may also shed some light on the issue.
These are very serious and disturbing allegations given that the Leader of the Opposition wants to scrap Trident debasing our defence capability and national security.
Despite the efforts of some to play down these issues there are some serious allegations being made about a Member of this House. I have considered asking the ISC but as their primary role is oversight of the UK’s intelligence service and not foreign relations I feel that your committee is best placed to investigate. I also note that the allegations relate to activity over 20 years ago and so much of the information would not be restricted by Government secrecy rules. At the very least an evidence session from all those mentioned in recent news reports would allow the facts to be established and individuals to clear their name,
David Morris MP
The man who wants to be Prime Minister has been accused by a Czech spy of handing information to Britain’s enemies – something he does not deny. At the very least we should be told what Corbyn said in his meetings with Jan Sarkocy, and allow him to answer the very pertinent questions about his judgement in being foolish enough to meet Soviet bloc “diplomats“. Tugendhat should call him…