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Aquind Stopped: Portsmouth MP responds

Responding to the Secretary of State’s decision to stop the Aquind interconnector project going ahead, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said: 

“The government have finally seen sense and stopped the disastrous Aquind project.

“This is a victory for the people of Portsmouth over years of uncertainty and Tory cronyism.

“I pay tribute to local campaigners who have helped me lead our City’s united opposition.

“I will continue to raise questions about how Conservative ministers came so close to allowing party donors facing corruption allegations to control a national infrastructure project.

“Without our efforts, this would not have been possible. Together, we have stopped Aquind.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long opposed the Aquind interconnector project, working alongside the Let’s Stop Aquind grassroots group.

Since his election he has grilled Ministers in Parliament, secured a dedicated debate on the issue, attended protests alongside local campaigners and met the project company to discuss concerns.

In September, Mr Morgan submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the project.

Mr Morgan has also consistently raised concerns about the project company’s concerningly opaque structure and finances.

Media reports from the BBC and Guardian revealed that Aquind owner Viktor Fedotov benefited from a $4bn alleged fraud in Russia. This seems to have been achieved through a complex scheme that funnelled government cash through layers of shell companies that were ultimately owned by Mr Fedotov.

Similar concerns have been raised about Aquind’s finances, with little information available about where its money is coming from, who is providing it, or whether similar complex financial structures are being used to hide this.

Mr Fedotov had been able to remain completely anonymous as the company’s owner using a rare exemption in corporate transparency rules, until his identity was revealed following an investigation by The Times in August 2020. Why this anonymity was necessary is not clear.

Aquind’s public face, Alexander Temerko, has also conducted a coordinated and concerted effort to influence British political figures.

Since the project started, Temerko has donated £700,000 to the Conservative Party. In addition to this, research done by the BBC has revealed that Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated a further £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties. This includes a string of current and former Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State was asked directly on Andrew Marr on 10 October if he was in favour of the project. He replied, “I have never commented on this specific project”.

However, letters obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information request show the Mr Kwarteng indicated both his and the government’s support for the project when he was Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.