Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Labour's Chris Bryant has been spitting feathers about Russia and Russians in particular. While most - if not all - MPs have condemned Putin and his wealthy supporters, Bryant has gone much further and attacked Russian people as an entity. In an explosive Twitter thread posted on February 24 Bryant called on the government to demand that dual British/Russian nationals 'choose between nationality'. He deleted that part of the thread two hours later, but the content can still be found (see below).
Presumably those who opted for Russian nationality would be deported under Bryant's proposal. It is clear from both the deleted tweet and the one below, which is still live, that he is keen to deport as many Russians as possible. In addition to deporting potentially all Russian embassy staff, he wants every Russian businessman on a UK visa to have their status reviewed and then deported 'if necessary'.
Imagine the outcry from the likes of Bryant if a prominent politician suggested that all Muslims should be deported in the wake of the grooming scandal or the latest terrorist outrage?
It's clear that Captain Underpants has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to Russia, but perhaps his motives became clearer this week when he used parliamentary privilege to personally attack leading Brexiteers who he claimed were in receipt of Russian state funds. Addressing the Commons he said he 'couldn't understand' why Arron Banks - the co-founder of Leave.EU - wasn't also sanctioned by the government as part of their campaign to isolate Moscow. Quoting journalist Isabel Oakshott, Bryant described Banks as an 'agent of influence of the Russian state'.
Bryant then went on to attack Nigel Farage, claiming that the former MEP received over half a million pounds from Russian state broadcaster Russia Today in 2018. He stopped short of calling for Farage to be sanctioned, but his mere mention of two Brexiteers in the same piece lays bare the motivation of this arch Remainer.
The figures disclosed by Bryant were very specific, but Nigel Farage hit back later the same day both on social media and on his GB News show. Watch his response below.
As mentioned by Farage, Bryant did indeed appear on Russia Today in 2014 (see clip below).
However, Bryant tweeted on Wednesday to deny any suggestion that he took payment from the broadcaster.
So Captain Underpants - one of the biggest money-grabbers in the Commons - appeared for free then? Wow.
The Spectator has also fact-checked Bryant's claims about Farage, finding that the sum he referred to appears to have come from Farage's declaration of outside earnings as an MEP in 2018. However, these earnings are a total sum of his media appearances - mostly from LBC Radio and Fox News. The article claims that Farage's most recent appearance on RT was in March 2017, therefore confirming that he neither appeared on the channel in 2018 or took payment.
No wonder Bryant has not repeated his claims outside of the Commons.