MPs clash in PMQs as Labour’s Dominic Raab and Angela Rayner blow on Lebedev’s peerage

Dominic Raab took aim at his Labor counterpart Angela Rayner for her support of Jeremy Corbyn today as she attacked Boris Johnson’s decision to give a Russian-born media tycoon a peerage.

The two MPs clashed in the House of Commons as they replaced their leaders during a Prime Minister’s Questions dominated by the war in Ukraine and its impact on the West.

Mr Johnson – who is in Saudi Arabia – and the Tories are facing questions over the Lords seat handed over to Evening Standard and independent owner Evgeny Lebedev despite objections from the security services.

Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia, 41, is the Moscow-born son of a former KGB agent. Reports claim that intelligence considered his ennoblement a national security risk and that the head of MI6 refused to meet him.

Facing Mr Raab in the Commons today, Ms Rayner asked if the Prime Minister ‘has ever asked anyone to urge the security services to review, reconsider or withdraw their assessment’ of his suitability to sit in the upper house .

Facing Mr Raab in the Commons today, Ms Rayner asked if the Prime Minister ‘has ever asked anyone to urge the security services to review, reconsider or withdraw their assessment’ of his suitability to sit in the upper house .

But Mr Raab drew attention to Ms Rayner's service in the shadow cabinet of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the hard-left icon had gone

But Mr Raab drew attention to Ms Rayner’s service in the shadow cabinet of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the hard-left icon had “sided with Putin” in the past.

Mr Johnson and the Tories are facing questions over the Lords seat handed over to Evening Standard and independent owner Evgeny Lebedev (left) despite objections from the security services.

Mr Johnson and the Tories are facing questions over the Lords seat handed over to Evening Standard and independent owner Evgeny Lebedev (left) despite objections from the security services.

“There are now numerous reports that the Prime Minister has not accepted the warnings of our own intelligence services, granting a Russian oligarch, the son and business partner of a KGB spy, a seat here in this Parliament,” she said.

“It shouldn’t matter if such a warning was about a close personal friend of the prime minister.” Never mind that he gave the Prime Minister thousands of pounds in gifts. And it doesn’t matter how much champagne and caviar he serves. There are no ifs or buts when it comes to the safety of the British people.

But Mr Raab drew attention to Ms Rayner’s service in the shadow cabinet of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying the hard-left icon had “sided with Putin” in the past.

Stressing that she had described Mr Corbyn as a ‘very strong leader, he added: ‘Can I just say to her kindly that when she campaigned like others had to make the MP for Islington North (Corbyn) Prime Minister , This Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary, leading the response to the nerve agent attack on Salisbury.

“The suggestion she makes is pure nonsense. But if she wants to talk about national security, I remind her that not too long ago she and her colleagues in the shadow cabinet wanted the honorable MP for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn)…a man who wanted and talked about abolishing the army, shooting Trident – she voted for it.

“Has there ever been a more ridiculous, reckless and naive time to call for unilateral nuclear disarmament and withdrawal from NATO?

“A Labor government would endanger our security. We do everything we can to protect it.

Last night Labor must have wondered whether Sir Keir had welcomed a Lebedev peerage – who used his papers to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Leader of the Opposition privately congratulated him when he was elevated to the House of Lords, sources told the Daily Mail.

He is believed to have sent the message to the phone of the media mogul, owner of The Independent and London’s Evening Standard newspapers, when the list of political honors was published in August 2020.

Yet yesterday Sir Keir insisted Boris Johnson had ‘serious questions’ to answer about the peerage, following claims intelligence saw her as a national security risk, and the head of MI6 refused to meet him.

The Labor leader has written to the House of Lords Appointments Committee in light of the ‘disturbing reports’ and asked it to publish its advice to Mr Johnson on the peerage verification process.

Yet yesterday Sir Keir insisted that Boris Johnson had

Yet yesterday Sir Keir insisted Boris Johnson had ‘serious questions’ to answer about the peerage, following claims intelligence saw her as a national security risk, and the head of MI6 refused to meet him.

Sir Keir told Sky News yesterday: ‘Of course we shouldn’t just demonize the Russians, I totally agree with that, but Lebedev doesn’t. Media reports today say there were other security and intelligence service reservations that were known prior to this appointment and we know concerns were raised apparently with the Prime Minister.

“In light of today’s new revelations, I think the Prime Minister has some serious questions to answer: what did he know? And did he override safety advice?

Tory backbench Andrew Bridgen said it was another example of double standards from the Labor leader, who was pictured drinking a beer in an office during the lockdown despite condemnation of staff rallies in Downing Street at the same time.

“Once again Keir Starmer has been taken for his hypocrisy,” he added. “He’s Captain Hindsight, just a political weathervane who doesn’t represent anything.” He called on Sir Keir to fully disclose all his previous contacts with Lord Lebedev.

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