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Russia 'failed' in de-escalating situation in east Ukraine

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said that after Russia signed the Geneva accord earlier in the month, they have "since failed to act on its commitments within the agreement, and has taken no public steps to help de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine".

Douglas Alexander says that Russia failed to act on commitments in the Geneva agreement. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

He said: "Given Russia's continued actions, the G7 is right to now prepare broader sectoral measures in order to increase the economic and financial cost to Russia of its actions to support the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

"The priority now must be avoiding an escalation in the region and securing conditions in which upcoming Presidential elections in Ukraine can take place without the risk of further violence."

More: Ukraine 'will fight' if Russia sends 'peace-keepers'

Alexander: Ukip 'poses a mortal threat to Conservatives'

Mariella Frostrup, Douglas Alexander, Isabel Hardman and Nick Hewer join Tom Bradby on this week's show Credit: The Agenda/ITV

The UK Independence Party poses a "mortal threat" to the Conservatives' chances of winning the next election, the shadow foreign secretary has told ITV's The Agenda.

Douglas Alexander told host Tom Bradby that he took the threat from Ukip "very seriously" but added: "I think you defeat Ukip is not [by] what David Cameron has done: first of all ignore them, then insult them, then imitate them."

But he admitted he was "certainly not complacent" and that Labour "have got a lot of work to do."

Mr Alexander added: "If you are a party that aspires to be the government you can't just offer anger, you've got to offer answers - so in that sense I don't want to be a replica of Nigel Farage, I want to be a remedy. That means offering different policies that give people confidence."

Tom is also joined by the broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, the Countdown presenter Nick Hewer and the Spectator's Isabel Hardman.

The Agenda with Tom Bradby will be broadcast on ITV at 10.35pm.

Get involved in the debate on Twitter during the show by using the hashtag #theagenda

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Labour: 'Difficult diplomacy' needed on Ukraine crisis

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said there needs to be "deft and frankly difficult diplomacy in the days and weeks ahead" to ensure Russia changes course on the Ukraine crisis.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Alexander said he was "very concerned" about the amassing of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border in recent weeks.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander on The Andrew Marr Show.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"I think this is probably the biggest security challenge that Europe has faced certainly in the last 20 years", he said.

Mr Alexander also warned the President Vladimir Putin "needs to realise that there would be costs and consequences" if Russian troops move into eastern Ukraine.

Alexander rubbishes Labour-Lib Dem coalition claims

Suggestions that Labour could enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after next year's General Election have been dismissed as "nonsense" by the man in charge of Labour's election strategy.

Douglas Alexander told the Scottish Labour conference that his party should hold the Lib Dems to account for their role in implementing policies such as welfare reform and a rise in tuition fees.

Douglas Alexander is the chair of Labour's General Election strategy.
Douglas Alexander is the chair of Labour's General Election strategy. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Alexander insisted that next year's election was "quintessentially winnable" for Labour.

"The Liberal Democrats want to pretend that they are the internal opposition to the Conservatives - they're not the internal opposition, they are the enablers of the Conservatives," he said.

"The reason David Cameron is sitting in Downing Street is because Nick Clegg is sitting next to him at the Cabinet table."

Douglas Alexander: EU referendum 'frankly unlikely'

An in/out referendum on EU membership under a Labour government is "frankly unlikely", the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said.

He said a vote was still "possible" if there was a transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels.

Read: Miliband: EU referendum 'unlikely' if Labour wins election

Labour renews calls for PM to boycott Sri Lanka summit

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said Prime Minister David Cameron must "urgently consider reversing his decision" to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Sri Lanka this week.

"For months Labour has urged the Government to do more to raise Britain's concern over human rights in Sri Lanka in the run up to the summit," Mr Alexander said.

"If the Prime Minister now chose to reverse his decision to attend the summit - even at this late stage - he would have Labour's full support."

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Alexander says he 'paid the price' for opposing McBride

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has told Labour activists he "paid a price" for opposing former Brown aide Damian McBride's "destructive" style of politics.

Mr Alexander was hit by claims in the spin doctor's book that he ''dispassionately'' advised Gordon Brown that his sister would have to quit her role as the party's Scottish leader.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Wendy Alexander stood down from the post in 2008 following a row about donations to her leadership campaign.

Mr Alexander told the Progress rally: "What Damian McBride represented wasn't just the way politics is or just some briefing, it was destructive, divisive and deeply damaging to our party."

Fallout from Syria vote set to continue

The political fallout from last week's Syria vote has continued with a Cabinet minister saying the results would be a matter for Ed Miliband's conscience and the shadow foreign secretary admitting he was not comfortable with the position Labour now finds itself in.

ITV News Political Editor Tom Bradby reports:

Michael Gove lambasted Labour saying that the party would have to live with the consequences.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told ITV News that he was not "comfortable with the situation" in Syria as the UK looks unlikely to intervene.

Read more: Tom Bradby - What the Syria vote means for the UK and our priorities

PM urged to recall Parliament to discuss Syria

Speaking on BBC Breakfast Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said:

The right response is not simply to say something must be done, however loudly. It is to both ask and answer the question 'What steps can be taken to make a horrendous situation better?'

Now, as the Labour Party, we have never in principle ruled out the use of force in Syria. But we haven't yet heard from the Government what its strategic objective would be for any military action.

Would it be to degrade and diminish the capability of Assad to use chemical weapons? Would it be an attempt to try and change the course of a highly complex, intractable civil war?

We simply haven't had those questions answered.

And that's why I do think the Prime Minister should bring Parliament back so that they can offer their case both to politicians and to the people before any decision is taken to commit British forces into combat.

Leaks show 'need for ministerial oversight of GCHQ'

The shadow foreign secretary said the leaks that suggest the GCHQ had tapped data cables "underlines the need" for ministerial oversight of intelligence agencies.

File photo of shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Douglas Alexander said: "The latest reports in the Guardian underline the need for effective parliamentary and ministerial oversight of GCHQ and our other intelligence agencies.

"Whilst GCHQ do vital work to keep us all safe from harm, it is also vital that they do so with the legal framework set down by Parliament, and with proper safeguards in place to protect people's privacy.

"We urged the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to look into these issues raised by the Guardian, and their work is now under way.

"These latest reports reinforce the urgency and importance of the ISC's work on this issue."

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