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Minister calls for Putin’s removal in break with Government’s position

Laura Farris, the safeguarding minister, speaking during an edition of Question Time
Laura Farris, the safeguarding minister, speaking during an edition of Question Time

A Home Office minister has said she wants to see Vladimir Putin removed from power, in a break with the Government’s position.

Laura Farris, the safeguarding minister, called for the Russian dictator to be replaced on the eve of the second anniversary of his illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking during an edition of Question Time, Ms Farris argued that while Britain could not determine Putin’s future by itself, it should work with allies and ensure military victory for Ukraine in order to “ultimately” oust him from the Kremlin.

Downing Street has repeatedly insisted the removal of Putin is not an objective of the UK Government.

Asked if sanctions on Russia were failing, Ms Farris replied: “The tools that we have involve sanctions but also freezing them out of our domestic markets which we’ve done as much as possible, and we’ve sent people out of the United Kingdom.”

Pressed on the Russian economy growing faster than that of any G7 country in 2023, she said: “It’s also the case, I think, that 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, you know, 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, that we can remove him from power.”

Downing Street has repeatedly insisted the removal of Vladimir Putin is not an objective of the UK Government
Downing Street has repeatedly insisted the removal of Vladimir Putin is not an objective of the UK Government - ALEXANDER KAZAKOV/AFP

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman has insisted any decision about the future of Putin’s presidency would be a matter for the Russian people.

Asked in 2022 about a suggestion by Joe Biden, the US president, that Putin “cannot remain in power”, Boris Johnson said a change of government “in itself is not an ignoble thing” but that he was “absolutely clear it’s not the objective of the UK Government”.

He added: “And it’s very, very important that everybody gets this. We are simply setting out to help to protect the people of Ukraine, and to protect them against absolutely barbaric and unreasonable violence.”

Ms Farris told the programme the death of Alexei Navalny was a sign the Russian leader is ‘inherently weak’
Ms Farris told the programme the death of Alexei Navalny was a sign the Russian leader is ‘inherently weak’

Earlier in the programme, Ms Farris said that the recent death of Alexei Navalny, the leading critic of Putin’s regime, was a sign the Russian leader is “inherently weak”.

She added: “If this shows us anything, it shows us why it is important to maintain the support we are giving to Ukraine, because we cannot indulge Putin’s sort of alternative reality.

“I mean, it is absolutely shocking that in 2024 a world leader can kill their number one opponent and know they won’t suffer any consequences. It’s also a sign of cowardice, actually, because if you can’t take [on] your main political opponent, that shows you’re inherently weak.”

Yulia Navalnaya, the opposition leader’s widow, has claimed that his body was kept from his family to allow traces of Novichok to disappear. The Putin critic was previously poisoned with the nerve agent in 2020.

It came as the chief of the German armed forces said Putin’s troops would “no doubt” be defeated by Nato if he dared to launch an attack on Europe’s eastern flank.