Yesterday morning, ConservativeHome called for Conservative MPs no longer to sit with Putin’s United Russia party and its allies in the European Democrat Group of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. Yesterday afternoon, the Tory delegation to the Assembly announced that it is “suspending its membership of the EDG”. It says that it “has no confidence in Mr Alexei Pushkov”, the Putin-aligned current EDG Chairman. The suspension is pending a move by the MPs to suspend the Russian Federation from the Assembly altogether.
To suspend membership of a group is not to leave it, and it remains to be seen what the delegation will do if its wider move to suspend the Russian Federation does not succeed. But the move is none the less very welcome. Given the scale of the turmoil over Ukraine, other European democratic centre-right parties will doubtless also leave the EDG, and it is unlikely that it will be reconstituted in its recent form. Any attempt to do so, however, would be backsliding and should be resisted. Tory MPs should not sit with Putin’s supporters.