Minister Strays From Official Government Line With Surprising Putin Take On BBC Question Time

Laura Farris's comment may have raised eyebrows in Downing Street.
Vladimir Putin and Laura Farris
Vladimir Putin and Laura Farris
Getty/BBC Question Time

A junior home office minister diverged from the government’s official line on Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Thursday night.

Speaking on BBC Question Time, Tory MP Laura Farris said the UK and its allies need to “remove him from power” – a much stronger sentiment than Downing Street usually goes for with the authoritarian leader.

Farris found herself in this muddle after she was asked just how effective the West’s sanctions against Russia really were.

Host Fiona Bruce pointed out that the country’s economy grew faster than all the G7 economies in 2023 and is forecast to do the same in 2024, while Russian oil exports – which the West weaned itself off in response to the invasion of Ukraine – are near pre-war levels.

Farris replied: “The Ukraine war is costing Putin heavily.

“It’s costing him money, it’s costing him political capital, it’s costing him the support of Russian citizens, and we alone, can’t determine his future.

“But collectively, with Nato, with the support of our allies, maintaining support for Ukraine, ultimately seeing them triumph is the only way, ultimately, we can remove him from power.”

The government has not taken such a strong stance towards Putin before, although it has been highly critical of him and his actions in Ukraine.

While the UK (and allies) have made its unwavering support for Kyiv very clear by providing financial packages and some weaponry, the West has been determined to avoid being drawn into a direct war with Russia – only going as far as to issue sanctions against the country.

In fact, Putin’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, was even invited to a rather meeting with other G20 representatives only this week.

He sat around a table with Farris’s fellow Tory, foreign secretary Lord David Cameron, while being lambasted for his country’s aggression in Ukraine.

Farris’s remarks also come ahead of the Russian presidential elections next month, where Putin – who has no feasible opponents competing against him – is already a shoo-in for another term in office.

Farris also used her time on the BBC Question Time panel to slam Putin after the death of his most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, while serving a long sentence in a Russian prison last week.

She said: “We cannot indulge Putin’s alternative reality.

“It is absolutely shocking that in 2024 a world leader can kill their number one opponent, and know that they won’t suffer any consequences for that.”


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