While Boris Johnson claims it is a “scandal” that Labour MPs are willing to appear on RT, the Tory foreign secretary seems unaware his own father came on the channel just last month. In fact, a lot of Johnson’s Tory colleagues have.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Johnson claimed RT’s news output is “propaganda” and admonished those who have appeared.
“If you study the output of Russia Today, and if you consider the state of the press in Russia at present, it is a scandal that members of the party opposite are continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programs,” Johnson said.
“I’m assured by my ministerial team none of them do so.”
His own father did, though.
Last month, Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson spoke to RT’s Going Underground about his anti-Brexit book, Kompromat, and discussed whether any of the characters were based on his son.
Host Afshin Rattansi and Johnson senior joked about the similarities between a character in his book, Harry Stokes – a bubbly blonde-haired former mayor of London who was “wowing the crowds wherever he went” who becomes foreign secretary – and his son.
Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, responded to Johnson’s remarks.
“It would have been astonishing, had it not been so banal: Boris Johnson is exercising his freedom of speech by bullying his fellow politicians for exercising theirs by speaking on RT,” she said.
The controversy was fired up by right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes, who said last week that over the past two years, Labour MPs have appeared on RT forty times.
But notably, in the same timeframe a number of prominent Conservative parliamentarians, including Mike Freer, now an assistant government whip, Welsh MP David Davies, who chairs the Welsh affairs select committee, and Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, have also been guests of the channel.
Backbenchers Crispin Blunt, Sir David Amess, Daniel Kawczynski, and Philip Davies have also appeared.