HENRY DEEDES watches the Foreign Secretary talking tough over Russia

Liz Truss wore an outfit that screamed Vamoose Vlad! HENRY DEEDES watches the Foreign Secretary talking tough over Russia

Vladimir Putin has crushed opponents, judo-wrestled Olympians to the mat and, if the internet is to be believed, even grappled with bears. But has he ever dealt with the terrifying prospect of Liz Truss at full force?

Britain’s new Iron Lady marched purposefully into the Commons yesterday to deliver a statement on Russia. The Foreign Secretary was in serious mode. 

Gone were the gormless smiles, the giggly asides and the weird rants about British cheese.

Instead, she appeared all swishy-haired and power-suited, with a pussy-bow top which screamed ‘Vamoose, Vlad!’

Britain’s new Iron Lady marched purposefully into the Commons yesterday to deliver a statement on Russia. The Foreign Secretary was in serious mode

Even her voice sounded a good octave lower than normal. Another lift from the Mrs T playbook. La Truss demanded Russia ‘de-escalate’ current tensions with the Ukraine. Any incursion there would be a ‘strategic mistake’, she added, and would come at ‘a severe cost’.

She said this in a manner that suggested she might well turn up at the Ukrainian border herself, her little head poking out of a tank’s turret hatch. It was a delivery designed to set teacups rattling over in Moscow. 

Few, one suspects, were watching over in the Kremlin. Not many were here either, it should be said. Among those on her own side who’d bothered to show up, she was heard in a spirit of approbation.

Even her voice sounded a good octave lower than normal. Another lift from the Mrs T playbook. La Truss demanded Russia ‘de-escalate’ current tensions with the Ukraine. Any incursion there would be a ‘strategic mistake’, she added, and would come at ‘a severe cost’

‘A strong statement’ was the oft heard cry from the backbenches. Others such as Tobias Ellwood (Con, Bournemouth E) – a former captain in the Royal Green Jackets – felt the Government should be threatening Russia with something a little more intimidating than yet another range of watery sanctions. As ever, Tom Tugendhat (Con, Tonbridge), treated us to one of his fascinating geo-political lectures. Opposition MPs were less impressed with Truss’s posturing. Chris Bryant (Lab, Rhondda) certainly wasn’t having any of it.

Hard man to impress, Bryant. The sort of party guest who complains about the food and boos the after-dinner entertainment. He said the Government’s stance was ‘hypocritical’, what with all the hooky Russian cash swirling around London. Truss responded with something about anti-corruption laws being put to use. 

Now that Truss was at loggerheads with Moscow, Kevan Jones (Lab, N Durham) suggested it was probably time she stopped accepting any more lunches with wealthy Russian donors. 

This was a reference to Truss getting rumbled a couple of years ago wining and dining Ruski banker Lubov Chernukhin, a meeting which only came to light when Truss posted a picture of their get-together on Instagram. With carelessness like that, who needs spies?

Earlier we had business questions, hosted by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg who’d made headlines that morning after letting it be known he was opposed to the Government’s National Insurance rise in April.

His opposite number Thangam Debbonaire suggested that since Labour also opposed the hike he might wish to cross the floor.

The look of horror on Jacob’s face. Anyone would have thought the honourable member for the 18th century had been asked to pose for Penthouse in his underdrawers.

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