Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, 49, and the Tory Minister James Cleverly, 52, traded blows on the BBC’s panel show in Harrow when discussing what further action could be taken against Russia. Mr Lammy, who was first elected as the MP for Tottenham in 2000, criticised the Conservative Government just seconds after Mr Cleverly welcomed the unity shown by Britain’s major parties.
Mr Lammy said: “I’ve got to be a bit critical because the authoritative piece of work on the resilience that our country needs was done in a cross-party way by our intelligence committee of MPs across the House of Commons and the House of Lords and they produced the ‘Russia Report’.
“And we are still waiting to see that report properly implemented.”
When pushed by Question Time host Fiona Bruce, 57, about what action he wished the Government would take, the Shadow Foreign Secretary exclaimed: “We need to know who owns those houses where the lights are off in Kensington, 250 houses owned overseas, we’ve got no idea!”
“We need to crack-down on those shell companies. We’ve got drug-running in London, with money going round.
“We are the cocaine capital of Britain in London with kids being trafficked.”
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He then asked: “What are we doing about it? Not nearly enough.”
But Ms Bruce pointed out Russian money was circulating the capital when Labour was also in Government.
Oxford University’s Professor Timothy Garton Ash, 66, later interjected to highlight how Labour’s ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, 68, was once spotted “swanning on a yacht” with the 54-year-old Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
Mr Lammy conceded the issue started when Labour was in power but was keen to stress it had gotten worse under the Conservatives.
He then took aim at Mr Cleverly’s party over donations and questioned the Braintree MP personally for his role as party chairman.
Cleverly explained: “The donations we have received were from British nationals, legitimate donors, registered with the Electoral Commission, and I think you should be very careful at just implying that all Russians are dirty…”
“You know I’m not saying that,” Lammy complained.
Mr Cleverly, who has family from Sierra Leone, also argued he would be “deeply offended” if people were to imply all Sierra Leoneans were “dirty” because of the corruption previously seen in the west African country.
He added: “To suggest that all donations from Russia are somehow dirty because some Russians are corrupt is deeply, deeply racist and if you are to do it against any other racial group you would be pilloried.”
Mr Lammy did utter an apology as he began to rebut the Tory response but was cut short by Ms Bruce wanting the comments from another panellist.