Keir Starmer warns Britons of ‘economic pain’ to come as he backs ‘hardest possible’ sanctions on Russia
Keir Starmer has warned Britons to be braced for “economic pain” after sanctions are imposed on Russia, but called for the toughest action to end Vladimir Putin’s “bandit rule”.
Experts warn that sanctions – while hitting Russia hard – will rebound on the UK and other countries by sending already-soaring energy bills to new highs, as well as supermarket prices.
In his televised advice, in which he vowed the invasion must fail, Boris Johnson made no mention of the knock-on impact for British people already suffering a cost-of living crisis.
But the Labour leader said: “We must prepare ourselves for difficulties here. We will see economic pain as we free Europe from dependence on Russian gas and clean our institutions from money stolen from the Russian people.”
He added: “But the British public have always been willing to make sacrifice to defend democracy on our continent and we will again.”
In his own TV address, Sir Keir called for the Putin regime to see its “ability to function crippled”, so that its “bandit rule” comes to an end.
“This must be a turning point in our history. We must look back and say that this terrible day was actually when Putin doomed himself to defeat,” he said.
“He seeks division, so we must stay united. He hopes for inaction, so we must take a stand. He believes that we are too corrupted to do the right thing, so we must prove him wrong. I believe we can, but only if we stand together.”
Sir Keir urged Western leaders to do “all we can to help Ukraine defend herself”, arguing “the hardest possible sanctions must be taken against the Putin regime”.
“It must be isolated, its finances frozen, its ability to function crippled,” he added.
“And there are changes we must make here in the UK. For too long our country has been a safe-haven for the money that Putin and his fellow bandits gained by stealing from the Russian people. It must end now.”
Earlier, Mr Johnson said: “Today, in concert with our allies, we will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.”
They are likely to include banning Russia from the SWIFT international payments system and ending its ability to raise funds on London markets, by issuing sovereign debt.
The UK only gets a tiny proportion of its gas from Russia, but sanctions are likely trigger reductions in gas supplies to Europe – with a knock-on effect on prices in the UK.
Earlier, Tom Tugendhat, Tory chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, warned: “This is absolutely one of those moments where we’re going to see the cost-of-living crisis driven by war.”