Tory MP Says Railway Unions Are 'Putin's Friend' For Going On Strike

Tobias Ellwood claimed Russia will be "enjoying the self-inflicted distraction" from the war in Ukraine.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood made his comments on Sky News
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood made his comments on Sky News
Sky News

A senior Conservative MP has called the rail unions “Putin’s friend” for going out on strike.

Tobias Ellwood made the extraordinary remark as the UK prepares for two more days of industrial action by RMT members on Thursday and Saturday.

Thousands of workers staged a walkout yesterday in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, bringing the country’s rail network to a halt.

Appearing on Sky News, Ellwood, who is chair of the defence select committee, said Russia would we “enjoying” the fact that the government is being distracted from the war in Ukraine.

He said: “We face huge economic headwinds yet here we are causing such huge self-harm as the country is brought to a halt.

“I think Russia must be enjoying this self-inflicted distraction, pleased to see that the one government in Europe that is actually standing up to Putin is completely distracted in this way.

“I do hope the unions now call off future planned strikes ... this isn’t just disrupting commuters, including key workers, but students as well and indeed the hospitality sector.”

He added: “It’s also armed forces weekend this Saturday and that’s where we say thank you to those who serve and have served.

“I say to the unions ’please don’t be Putin’s friend - return to the talks today so we can get the country moving again.”

Around 40,000 members of the RMT union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are involved in the industrial action. RMT members on London Underground also went on strike on Tuesday.

Talks aimed at resolving the bitter dispute are set to resume today.

However, the government has said it will not sanction pay rises approaching the rate of inflation, which now stands at 9.1 per cent.

Addressing his cabinet yesterday, Boris Johnson said: “I say this to the country as a whole, we need to get ready to stay the course.

“To stay the course, because these reforms, these improvements in the way we run our railways are in the interests of the travelling public, they will help to cut costs for farepayers up and down the country.”

Unions representing teachers, junior doctors, civil servants and local authority staff are all threatening to ballot members on strike action amid predictions that the UK could be hit by a “summer of discontent”.


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