Firebrand politician George Galloway accused ex-Tory MP Michael Portillo of conveniently overlooking Saudi Arabia’s crimes, when Portillo tried to criticize Galloway for not opposing trade relations with Russia and China.
Sitting down together on BBC’s This Week program, the duo butted heads over trade deals, with Galloway told he was overlooking Russia; glossing over the Kremlin’s “violent history” out of convenience.
In a video that criticized Labour’s expected approach to departing the EU – Portillo observed that Galloway had not mentioned trade issues with China and Russia… but Galloway was having none of it. “One has to trade with all kinds of countries,” he said. “With the exception of Saudi Arabia, I’d be in favor of trading with them.”
Portillo accused Russia of being a “murderous regime” with which the UK should avoid relations. Galloway, however, jumped to the defense of the Kremlin. “To trade with them, you have to have good relations,” he said.
Turning the conversation back to EU relations, Galloway pointed out that Russian trade is essential. “It’s very cold outside, and if it’s warm indoors it because of Russian gas. Russia is an important trading partner and can be a more important trading partner.”
While the UK doesn’t get gas directly from Russia, Europe does – and some of it filters its way across the continent to Britain. Portillo countered by asking “murderous regimes with gas should be let off, should they?”
“Murderous regimes with oil, like Saudi Arabia, you always let off,” Galloway retorted.
“I’m asking the country to embrace the world,” he said. “To leave the European Union’s fading, failing economies with all of the stresses and strains in the EU – it is falling apart in front of our eyes – and embrace a world where economies are rising. This isn’t isolationism – it’s leaving the EU and joining the world.”