‘I think you have to do stuff that actually hits Putin and his government where it hurts. I know about this tennis match – they volunteered me to play tennis with some geezer. It is very important full checks are carried out to make sure this is not someone who is an intimate or a crony.’
So said Boris Johnson on Sky News earlier today. This funny little tennis match has put the Tories under some pressure. Not nearly as much pressure as it should have done, because Ed Miliband has, unaccountably, been bumming about in America in search of a photo-op with Barack Obama, which was not an unqualified success. Indeed, Tory strategists ‘couldn’t be happier’ about this state of affairs.
Nevertheless, the story — about close relations between Tories and Russian oligarchs — has the potential to run and run through the silly season, heaping embarrassment on CCHQ. So Boris’s instincts are, as so often, correct. The Tories would benefit from disclosing which, if any, of their donors might qualify as ‘Putin cronies’.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.