Corbyn refuses to condemn Russian Federation over spy attack

Lester Mason
March 14, 2018

Labour backbenchers are voicing their disapproval at their party leader's comments in the wake of the spy poisoning.

"Either this was a direct attack by the Russian state against our country or conceivably the country could have lost control of the military grade nerve agent".

Speaking this lunchtime, the Prime Minister said: "The UK government concluded it was highly likely Russian Federation was responsible for this attack".

Mr Corby condemned the "appalling act of violence" on 4 March which left ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a policeman in a serious condition, but then urged continued "robust dialogue" with Moscow.

He went on: "And while suspending high-level contacts, does the Prime Minister agree it is essential to maintain a robust dialogue with Russian Federation?"

However, the Labour leader drew ire for failing to explicitly back the Prime Minister's assertion of Russian responsibility for the attack.

The PM said: "This is not a question of our diplomacy, of what diplomatic support we have around the world".

Following the stern attack on Mr Johnson, Parliament erupted. The PM dodged the questions by hitting out at Corbyn for not condemning Russia's "culpability".

A number of high-profile Labour backbenchers then voiced their own disapproval with their party leader's comments.

His former leadership contest rival - and current chairwoman of the Home Affairs committee - Yvette Cooper said what was needed was "unequivocal" condemnation of Russia's actions.

"They stand full square behind the Government in the analysis that we have shown and the action that we have taken".

The spokesman said: "Clearly whoever carried out the attack is responsible for what was a completely heinous and reckless act".

In a briefing to journalists following the session, a spokesperson for Corbyn said the Labour leader's desire for evidence before apportioning culpability to Russian Federation stemmed from the UK's history of weapons of mass destruction intelligence not being accurate, a clear reference to the erroneous, propagandistic claims of Baghdad's chemical weapons capabilities spread by the British government, media and intelligence services, in the leadup to the 2003 US/UK-led invasion of Iraq.

'I think obviously the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don't; however, also there's a history in relation to WMD and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly.'

Moreover, they claim synthesis at bench scale of "Novichoks" is within the capability of any modern chemistry laboratory - Porton Down, the United Kingdom government's chemical weapons testing facility in Salisbury, is itself able to synthesize these compounds in order to develop tests for them.

He said the most likely explanation was Russian Federation that was "directly or indirectly responsible" for the attack but "culpability takes many forms".

The Foreign Office said: "The UK has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to update Council members on the investigation into the nerve agent attack in Salisbury".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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