After This Site’s article yesterday showing that Boris Johnson is trying to hide the idiocy of his decisions by claiming they are “very sensible”, this:
His government paid £2.6 million to a Russian company for construction of the new media briefing room – in Downing Street, the heart of the UK government.
Despite being sued for unlawfully withholding details of contracts, the Tory government has refused to say whether the work was put out to competitive tender. It should have been, because the contract was not awarded as part of an emergency.
In fact, no details of the contract with Russian-owned Megahertz have been published.
Megahertz carried out the main work on the project, including installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk. Its owner Okno-TV has previously carried out similar technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters Russia Today, Channel One, and Public Television of Russia.
It has not been suggested that the company is influenced by the Russian government, but the question has to be asked:
Why did Boris Johnson hire a company from a country that has been designated a “hostile state” to build a communications hub for the UK government?
It’s a security nightmare.
And, after the Salisbury poisonings, a public relations disaster.
Worse still, the briefing room itself looks amateurish.
Advance photos of the space, released before it goes into daily use, show a layout that could have been put together at a village hall, with a central podium backed by two Union flags and a TV screen on one side facing rows of the kind of chairs you see stacked at the side of your local meeting-room.
It doesn’t look like a £2.6m facility. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like it cost £2,000.
Admittedly, the broadcasting equipment was probably expensive. But, coming from a Russian firm, who knows what might be included in it, alongside what Johnson asked for?
The work also comes after a Tory government had to end the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G telecommunications in the UK.
So This Writer is in a rare position of agreement with Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary group on Russia, who said,
What shocks me most is that the Johnson government seems to have learnt nothing about the involvement in sensitive UK projects of companies with [links] to autocratic regimes, whether in Russia or in China.
Fundamental to the whole issue, of course, is the fact that Johnson spaffed this cash to Russia while do the dirty on nurses by giving them a pay cut.
It is clear that Johnson’s claim that he could not afford to pay any more to the people who saved so many from Covid-19 is bunkum; he’s got money to burn.
The problem is that his priorities are wrong.
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