THE terrible tragedy of Ukraine has produced many heroes and examples to inspire us – from the resistance of the people of the Ukraine to acts of solidarity and generosity all across Europe and the world.

Yet it has also proven yet again that while Boris Johnson likes the rhetoric of leadership, the art of boosterism and claiming that the UK is “leading the world” on action against Russia, the opposite is true.

Take the issue of sanctions against Russia. Once again the UK has been quick out of the stocks in claiming to be leading the way, while the reality has been very different. A small number of Russian individuals have been identified, some of whom have already been on US sanction lists for years.

The Economic Crime Bill was debated in the UK Parliament – a bill the government pre-Ukraine had decided to quietly drop – and when first brought forth, proposed to give Russian oligarchs eighteen months before they had to disclose their assets. In the face of universal criticism, this is apparently being amended but still gives oligarchs plenty of time to reorganise their wealth portfolios to avoid the reach of UK law.

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The even bigger controversy is the scandalous response of the UK Government towards Ukrainian refugees. As of Monday morning, 1.5 million refugees had fled Ukraine and a mere 50 Ukrainians had entered the UK. This compares with 1,349 taking sanctuary in Ireland, a country with less than one-tenth the UK population – and further away from Ukraine than the UK.

The stories of British officialdom are telling. At the French port of Calais, 150 Ukrainians trying to enter the UK were refused by British authorities and told to go to either Paris or Brussels to apply for visas. This led to the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin’s comment that the UK had a basic “lack of humanity” which he found appalling. Ukrainians have been asked by UK officials to provide extensive, and arguably irrelevant, information such as their travel plans and journeys for the past 10 years – as they flee a warzone in fear of their lives.

All of this comes against the backdrop of the Nationality and Borders Bill which will shamefully outlaw refugees coming to the UK by irregular routes and, even more damningly, people offering assistance and help to them. This is a fundamental breach of the UN Convention on Refugees and international law – and hence all about the UK Government playing to the most ugly, xenophobic side of their base and to the right-wing media.

To add insult to the above is the issue of the Tory Party and Russian interests and money. The Tories’ revolving door has taken Russian monies from “dual nationals.” These are Russian oligarchs who have bought UK citizenship through the so-called “golden visa” scheme (that has just been abolished) which for years ran without even the most basic security checks.

One such story concerns Evgeny Lebedev, a Russian oligarch who bought his “dual citizenship” and is the son of a KGB agent. Lebedev wormed his way into high society and bought The Independent and Evening Standard where he appointed George Osborne as editor. And after all this, his good work was rewarded, becoming Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia – a member of the House of Lords and a legislator and maker of UK laws.

It now turns out that this particular Russian scandal has connections to Boris Johnson, with the Prime Minister being warned when Lebedev was recommended for a peerage that he represented, in the judgement of the spy agencies, a potential security risk: a warning ignored.

If all of this were not enough to show the UK Government’s habitual failings, there is a palpable sense of an administration which does not seem to be on top of its brief. UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on the BBC’s Sunday Morning that Putin is “not in a conflict with the West”. This is someone, briefly UK Foreign Secretary, failing to grasp the basic truth that the West has been in conflict with Putin’s Russia for two decades.

Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary of State (note to younger readers: this used to be an important post) said at the weekend that he did not think that Putin would resort to nuclear weapons, and then told us that he had visited Bergen in Norway and “the nuclear base”. This led to the SNP’s Angus Robertson informing Jack that Bergen was not a “nuclear base,” as Norway does not allow nuclear weapons on its soil. Jack’s defence was that he had not said the words that he had actually said.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had discussions with the European Union at the weekend and, when tweeting her actions, could not even bring herself to say the words EU. This is a characteristic of the UK Government post-Brexit, as it tries to give the impression that the EU no longer exists which is clearly delusional and disingenuous and has to end with the crisis of the Ukraine.

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The Ukrainian crisis means that all politics – in Scotland, the West and internationally – has to step up and stand up for some core principles. These include defending democracy, not letting our politics be bought by foreign interests, and standing up for international law, compassion and solidarity. These are not revolutionary principles, but time and again Boris Johnson and previous Prime Ministers have shown that they refuse to embody them in what they do. The UK Government is failing to rise to the occasion of this tragedy – on sanctions, assets and refugees, and on how it co-operates at a global and European level. Only this weekend arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker was proposing that this time of humanitarian tragedy should not be used as an occasion to postpone triggering Article 16 and binning the Northern Ireland Protocol – continuing to pursue a purist Brexit irrespective of the wider cost.

This UK Government represents the worst aspects of Britain, when public opinion is overwhelmingly wanting to support and aid Ukraine. Overcoming this narrow, ungenerous Tory Britain will require leadership and courage from all opposition parties. If they let us and the people of Ukraine down in their hour of need, they will be judged harshly indeed.