Labour is calling on the government to ban the export of British luxury goods to Russia as a part of the sanctions package levelled against Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the government must clamp down on companies like Burberry and Vivienne Westwood selling their goods to Russia to ensure “Putin and his inner circle cannot live a Mayfair lifestyle in Moscow”, while it wages a bloody war in Ukraine.
Wealthy Russians are known to be major buyers of luxury brands from all across Europe, with Putin’s billionaire oligarchs spending floods of cash in capitals across the continent.
The UK contributes to this with some of its major luxury brands, with more than £100m of cosmetics, watches, clothing and jewellery sent to Russia every year, according to government figures.
Boris Johnson has imposed widespread sanctions on Russia’s financial services industry and has stopped the export of British high-tech goods to the country.
“We can and must do more. We on these benches call for a total ban on exports of luxury goods to Russia,” Thomas-Symonds told MPs.
“Cuting off the supply of luxury products would send a further signal to Putin’s kremlin, who have, by the way, often accumulated wealth and possessions at the expense of the Russian people. We can act on this and we can act now.”
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was non-committal in her answer Labour’s calls.
She said the government will “tighten the screws so that Putin and his regime will find it more and more difficult to sustain their military campaigns, but also so they will no longer have access to their funds”.
The UK has been criticised in recent days for not doing more to personally sanction oligarchs close to the Kremlin and freeze their British assets.
The UK has sanctioned just eight billionaire Putin allies, while the EU has sanctioned more people and higher profile targets.
There were reports today of French and German authorities seizing Russian superyachts worth hundreds of millions of pounds, prompting senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat to tweet that “we have flats that need seizing – now”.
A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK has already implemented a strategic trade export ban applicable to Russia that targets high-end technology and dual use goods.
“We routinely avoid speculating on future sanctions so as not to weaken their impact, but nothing is off the table in terms of sanctions until Russia reverses its illegal invasion of Ukraine.”