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Sunak and Starmer unite for war

Leaders join forces to condemn Farage for comments on Nato expansionism

RISHI SUNAK and Sir Keir Starmer united in support of their bipartisan war policy as the row spread over Nigel Farage’s remarks blaming Nato and European Union expansion for contributing to the Ukraine conflict.

The two leaders expressed outrage that anyone would make an election issue out of the apparent drive to a wider war in Europe and Britain’s complicity in it.

But anti-war campaigners warned that the conflict could not be swept under the carpet.

Reform Party owner Mr Farage had been the first to break through the wall of silence surrounding British policy towards Russia and Ukraine during the election.

Mr Farage said: “The West’s errors in Ukraine have been catastrophic. I won’t apologise for telling the truth.”

He had told the BBC that “the ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union was giving this man a reason to say to his Russian people, ‘they’re coming for us again’ and to go to war,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Making it clear that he did not support Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, he added: “I am not, and never have been, an apologist or supporter of Putin.

“As a champion of national sovereignty, I believe that Putin was entirely wrong to invade the sovereign nation of Ukraine.

“What I have been saying for the past 10 years is that the West has played into Putin’s hands, giving him the excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway.”

The squabbling Tory Party briefly united to condemn Mr Farage.  

Mr Sunak said he had played “into Putin’s hands” and former defence secretary Ben Wallace called him, somewhat irrelevantly, “a pub bore.”

Security minister Tom Tugendhat linked the Reform leader with the left, telling the press: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage — if you parrot the Kremlin’s lies, you cannot be trusted with our national security.”

Not to be outdone, Sir Keir huffed that Farage’s comments were “disgraceful,” adding that Ukraine was basically off-limits as a subject for political debate.

“Anyone who is standing for Parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, that we stand with Ukraine — as we have done from the beginning of this conflict — and Parliament has spoken with one voice on this since the beginning of the conflict,” the Labour leader said.

Indeed, he threatened a dozen Labour MPs with loss of the whip for expressing concern at Nato policy slightly before the 2022 invasion.

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German insisted today that “much as we might hate Nigel Farage, he was pointing out a fact: one reason for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was because of relentless EU and Nato expansion eastwards.

“That doesn’t justify the invasion, or Putin’s repression, or Farage’s nationalistic and racist politics. But it does give a partial explanation as to why the war happened.”

Stressing that Stop the War opposed Putin’s invasion and Nato’s “proxy war” alike, Ms German added that “it is a legitimate subject for debate in an election.

“This is especially so given that both parties are committed to increasing arms spending and full backing for the Ukraine war, [which is] moving ever closer to direct war between Nato powers and Russia, and with that the near certain use of nuclear weapons.”

And CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “Our decades-long opposition to nuclear-armed Nato isn’t going to change, whatever any party leader says.

“Nor is our recognition that unrestrained Nato expansion up to Russia’s borders has played a significant part in triggering the war on Ukraine.”

Workers Party leader George Galloway said: “The absolute hysteria over Nigel Farage telling the truth about the Ukraine war is the shape of things to come.

“The Establishment narrative over this and a hundred other things is a Potemkin village — paper thin.”

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