IF there’s one thing recent political events here in the UK have made crystal clear, it’s that this Tory government tell lies on a near unprecedented level.

But serious as the implications of “partygate” are, let’s pause for just a moment and consider some other duplicitous Tory dealing currently going on right under our noses.

I’m talking here about what’s been dubbed, “‘Londongrad”, which is shorthand for the Tory party’s cosy ties with Kremlin linked “dirty money” and willingness to accommodate Russian oligarchs.

For the past weeks now Boris Johnson and his trusty foreign secretary sidekick Liz Truss have been talking tough on Russia and the terrible things that would befall President Vladimir Putin and his country should they move to invade Ukraine.

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Step one was the usual British stuff – send arms to Kyiv. There’s no point after all in missing the opportunity to make a profit out of a crisis whether it involves Saudi Arabia or Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Step two were calls for sanctions, swift and punitive against Moscow should Russian tanks and troops pour over the border into Ukraine.

These new sanctions would mean that “there would be nowhere to hide for Putin’s oligarchs or Russian companies involved in propping up the Russian state”, Truss assured us.

The only problem with this of course is that very few people believe Truss. Why should they when for years in plain sight of the Tory government, Kremlin-linked oligarchs have found a safe and sound hub for their cash right here in the UK?

In fact, so comfortable is this financial hub that anti-corruption campaigners estimate that some 500 Russian multimillionaires live in Britain right now. Their cash has driven up real estate prices and enabled them to buy up so much of wealthy areas in central London.

It’s also provided a substantial chunk of change for the incomes of countless British bankers, lawyers, fund managers and other executives of the kind the Tories can’t get enough of.

“No one has done more to channel the flood of money out of Russia than London’s army of lawyers, bankers, and accountants; no one has been more accommodating of Putin’s oligarchs than Britain’s politicians,” was how author Oliver Bullough summed it up in a newspaper article last Sunday.

As a writer Bullough, who was formerly based in Russia, knows a thing or two about such stuff, having brought it together in his book, Butler To The World: How Britain Became The Servant Of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats And Criminals.”

With the UK acting as a facilitator, we know, too, that some of this Russian-linked cash has made its way directly into the Tory party’s campaign war chest.

Johnson’s government is full of swagger and bluster when it comes to standing up to Putin over Ukraine, but the inescapable fact is that it has done next to nothing over the years to target the Kremlin’s allies and their “London laundromat” right here on our doorstep.

The National:

Boris Johnson is full of swagger when it comes to standing up to Vladimir Putin

As far back as 2017 a law was established that granted courts the power to issue “unexplained wealth orders” (UWO), that compel those investing in Britain suspected of overseas corruption and criminality to explain the source of their money. Since then, you can literally count on the fingers of one hand the number of times such orders have been issued with only five having been issued since 2017.

A year later too, in 2018, the UK parliament’s foreign affairs select committee in a report called Moscow’s Gold, highlighted the need to act, including the introduction of sanctions on Kremlin-connected oligarchs in the UK.

It also recommended giving law enforcement and security agencies more resources and powers and digging deeper into Britain’s overseas tax havens that are used to hide dirty money.

According to a report that same year by Transparency International, large amounts of the Russian state-backed money controlled by Putin-connected oligarchs flow through British Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and then are transferred to the British capital.

Since then, almost nothing has been done by the Tory government to see such recommendations consolidated. This too despite documents ranging from the Pandora Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to disclosures to the Electoral Commission, showing that donors who have made money from Russia or Russians have given £1.93m to either the Tory party or individual constituency associations since Johnson took power in July 2019.

To take but one example, the financier Lubov Chernukhin, who has been a British citizen since 2011, donated £700,000 to the Tory party and is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, a former deputy finance minister under Putin.

AS the Pandora Papers revealed in October last year, the suggestion is that Lubov Chernukhin was allowed to leave Russia in 2004 with assets worth about £366m and retain Russian business connections.

The Chernukhins’ lawyers maintain it was not accepted that any of Lubov Chernukhin’s political donations had been funded by improper means or affected by the influence of anyone else. Vladimir had not accumulated any of his wealth in a corrupt manner, they insisted at the time.

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But still questions persist over the extent to which the UK under Johnson’s government has become a financial “laundromat” for Kremlin-linked money. Worth noting too is the extent to which Britain’s key ally in standing up to Putin, appears to be getting increasingly fed up with Johnson’s smoke and mirrors strategy.

Just last week, analysis by the influential Democratic- aligned think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP), outlined the obstacles faced in making sanctions against Russia bite and singled out Britain as one of them.

“Uprooting Kremlin-linked oligarchs will be a challenge given the close ties between Russian money and the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party, the press and its real estate and financial industry,” concluded, Max Bergmann author of the CAP report.

All of this has been going on for years now. No one should be fooled by the Tory government’s latest posturing about getting tough with Moscow. Were the Ukraine crisis not so serious, frankly the UK’s latest insistence on sanctions would verge on the laughable. Once again, it’s that all too familiar story of the Tories saying one thing and doing something else entirely.