Corbyn condemns Salisbury attack

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell

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

In response to Prime Minister Theresa May's statement on the latest developments on the former Russian spy allegedly poisoned in Salisbury earlier this month, the Labour leader said it was a matter of "huge regret" for his party that the United Kingdom had been deprived of funds to its diplomatic services, blaming the alleged attack on the Government's cuts.

But Mr Corbyn's spokesman appeared to back the move, saying: "The right approach is to seek the evidence, to follow worldwide treaties, particularly in relation to prohibited chemical weapons".

Today the Prime Minister unveiled a number of measures in retaliation against the attack, which took place in Salisbury earlier this month.

In response to May's statement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn questioned why samples of a deadly nerve agent had not been dispatched to Russian Federation for analysis. After the Labour leader failed to say that he believed Russian Federation to be responsible for this attempted murder, his spokesman went one further in the post-PMQs briefing.

He said: "In relation to the second alternative explanation, in other words the loss of control of military grade nerve agent, we highlighted and have done repeatedly the dangers of mafia-like groups and Russian oligarchic interests in London and their links with elements of the Russian state and that we need to take firm action on that and Jeremy highlighted that point in his response".

He said there was "a series of possibilities as to who may be responsible", including oligarchs, Mafia elements and other ex-Soviet states.

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But responding afterwards, Mr Corbyn's spokesman was defiant, saying: "In these kinds of crisis there are often initial reactions which aren't necessarily later backed up by reality or fact".

Asked whether Russian Federation should have been given more time to provide an explanation for the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, the spokesman said: "Strict procedures are set out by the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons".

But Labour MP John Woodcock - a long-term critic of Mr Corbyn - said it was vital for the Commons to "speak as one" on the issue and show its resolve in the face of Russian aggression.

"Can I assure the Prime Minister that most of us on these benches fully support the action she is taking", said former Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw.

One of the signatories, Chuka Umunna, said MPs must make clear where they stood.

"To ask how she handled that is a legitimate question", she told BBC Radio Derby.

"So, I think the right approach is to seek the evidence to follow worldwide treaties, particularly in relation to prohibitive chemical weapons".


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