The Russian retreat from the gates of Kyiv can be only hours away now. Vladimir Putin will surely be slapping the handcuffs on and handing himself over to the international court in The Hague on Monday to answer for his war crimes.
Chris Philp has spoken.
Philp will fight the Russian invaders in Croydon, set roadblocks at Fiveways and dig in on defensive positions on the high ground at Happy Valley.
Or something like that…
The Conservative MP for Croydon South is once again the subject of national ridicule and derision after he was let out without his minder and allowed to speak about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of a TV camera yesterday.
Other remarks Philp made, about refugees, apparently on behalf of the government in which he is a junior minister, also saw him accused of misrepresenting the facts – lying even – by high-profile public figures such as Deborah Meadon, one of the entrepreneurial dragons from TV’s Den, and footballer-turned-TV presenter, Gary Lineker.
“The Ukrainian army and Ukrainian citizens have every right to defend their homeland, to defend their cities and their towns, to defend their hospitals against this aggression by Russia,” Philp told Sky News. So far, so good…
But then Philp got just a tad too carried away with the thought of seeing off the barbaric invader.
The politician, who was parachuted into Croydon, in a political sense, rather than a military one, in 2015, said, “And to be honest, if somebody was attacking Croydon, the place I represent, if somebody was bombing Croydon University Hospital, I tell you what, I would be in the streets defending my hospital.
“I’d be in the streets defending my town and my neighbours as Ukrainians are quite rightly doing.”
But rather than conjuring up comparisons between himself and Ukraine’s heroic president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Philp only prompted thoughts of Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army, running around Purley town centre shouting “Don’t panic!”
Speaking in his capacity as Technology Minister, Philp said the Kremlin had blocked many social media sites, including Facebook, in order to publish its own propaganda unchallenged and stop ordinary Russians finding out the truth about the war. The government in Russia, in Orwellian fashion, has even banned the use of the word “war” in the context of their “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Philp did manage to make some important points about the situation in Ukraine, though his suggestion of a personal rearguard action outside Coulsdon’s Waitrose only managed to draw more enemy fire to distract from the message that the government’s own spin doctors will have wanted to communicate.
“We have seen in the last 24 or 48 hours what appear to be bits of disinformation published by Russian state outlets, including the Russian Embassy here in London putting on things like Twitter information that appear to be creating a false narrative that Ukrainians are considering using chemical weapons, which is clearly ridiculous and totally untrue.
“Sometimes they do that in preparation but I hope that’s not what they’re contemplating, the use of chemical weapons in any theatre of war, certainly one where there are lots of civilians, is totally unacceptable.
“I’m not going to talk about intelligence but using chemical weapons in an area which has lots of civilians would be a barbaric thing to do.
“I would say to Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime not to cross that line, not do that to Ukrainian civilians.” So that’s them told then.
Yesterday was clearly Philp’s turn to be the Boris Johnson lacky doing the rounds of the broadcast studios.
But his turn on Good Morning Britain earlier was a bit of a disaster, too, with dodgy claims about the UK government’s lukewarm embrace for refugees, whether from Ukraine or from the conflict in Syria, which saw him called out as a liar.
With hundreds of Ukrainian families fleeing Putin’s rockets and bombs and seeking safe refuge in Britain being delayed for days because Philp’s former Home Office boss, Priti Patel, has been obstructive and failed to organise any kind of fast-response clearance process, the Croydon MP made a baseless claim Tory Britain having welcomed more Syrian refugees than other European nations.
“Please. Stop. Lying,” was the damning three-word over-tweet from Lineker to his 8.3million followers.
Philp made the untrue claim that Britain had taken 25,000 Syrian refugees.
According to the organisation Free Movement in 2021, “Over the past five years, the UK has resettled around 26,000 refugees, including 20,000 Syrians.
“This looks impressive by European standards but most EU countries receive far higher numbers of in-country asylum seekers,” they said.
Refugee Action puts the number of Syrian refugees accepted into Britain lower still: “As well as providing aid to the refugee camps on Syria’s borders, the UK has pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020 through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
“By June 2019, 17,051 Syrian refugees had come to the UK through this scheme.”
Philp’s performance saw him acting as blatant a propagandist for Boris Johnson’s government, with the Tories’ usual scant regard for the truth. Meaden (568,000 Twitter followers) realised the damage that such spin might do.
“Trouble is, those who bother with fact know this is wrong and those who don’t find it easier to believe than do a simple Google search,” Meaden wrote.
At the 2019 General Election, 30,985 people in Croydon South actually voted for Chris Philp.
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