Labour MPs back PM's response on Salisbury attack
Home âº News âº UKLabour MPs back PMâs response on Salisbury attack
The group of backbenchers said it âunequivocally acceptsâ the Russian stateâs culpability for the poisoning.
A group of Labour backbenchers has said it âunequivocally acceptsâ the Russian stateâs culpability for the Salisbury attack after Jeremy Corbynâs team raised doubts about who was responsible.
The Labour leaderâs spokesman said there was a âproblematicâ history over the use of UK intelligence and left open the possibility of the Federation being framed.
Speaking to reporters after the statement updating MPs on the poisoning in Salisbury, the spokesman indicated that Labour does not believe there is enough evidence yet to blame the Russian state for the attack.
Theresa May condemned the comments as âshockingâ and âoutrageousâ after a Conservative MP raised them in the Commons chamber.
The spokesmanâs comments prompted Labour backbencher John Woodcock to table an Early Day Motion âunequivocallyâ accepting the âRussian stateâs culpabilityâ for the attack, and supporting âfullyâ the statement made by Mrs May in the Commons.
The motion was swiftly signed by a number of prominent critics of Mr Corbyn, some of whom went public with their criticism of the leaderâs senior aide Seumas Milne .
Labour MP Anna Turley tweeted: âIâm afraid Seumas doesnât speak for my Labour or British valuesâ, while Chuka Umunna said: âMr Milneâs comments do not represent the views of the majority of our voters, members or MPsâ.
The Labour leader has been given security briefings on the incident, but the spokesman said the Government may have more information.
He told reporters: âThe Government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others donât.
âHowever, also there is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly.
âSo, I think the right approach is to seek the evidence to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibitive chemical weapons.â
Asked if he could rule out the possibility of Russia being framed, the spokesman said the evidence pointed âoverwhelminglyâ to the two options set out by the PM.
âIn the meantime I think it is essential we follow the evidence and what the evidence produces,â he added.
Pressed on whether another former Soviet state, such as Ukraine, may be the origin of the substance, he replied: âI think the second option Theresa May set out on Monday and again today, that the Russian government had lost control of weapons grade nerve agents which may have been produced during the Soviet period, contains within it a series of different possibilities of who then might have been directly responsible for that.
âIf the material is from the Soviet period, the break-up of the Soviet state led to all sorts of military material ending up in random hands.â
The spokesman said that during the âWMD sagaâ there was âboth what was actually produced by the intelligence services, which in the end we had access to, and then there was how that was used in the public domain in politics.
âSo, there is a history of problems in relation t o interpreting that evidence but, in this case, the Government may well have other evidence that we are not aware of. Clearly this issue has to be followed on the basis of the evidence.â
The PM criticised the Opposition leaderâs spokesman from the despatch box.
She said: âI am surprised and shocked at the statement that has been put out by the spokesman for the leader of the Opposition, and as I was going to say it is very clear I think from the remarks that have been made by backbenchers from the Labour Party that they will be equally concerned about that remark.
âThey stand full square behind the Government in the analysis that we have shown and the action that we have taken.â
She added: âWhat we are talking about here in the United Kingdom is the use of a chemical weapon, a nerve agent, a military grade nerve agent against people here in the United Kingdom.
âThat is very clear and I think it is quite wrong and outrageous that the l eader of the oppositionâs spokesman made the comments in the relation to this that he has.â
Mr Woodcock said: âThis is a time for the nation to speak as one so it was heartening that the overwhelming majority of MPs of all parties spoke so strongly in support of the strong package of measures outlined by the Prime Minister today.
âThere should be no doubt over Russiaâs culpability and we should resist the Russian propaganda machineâs attempts to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the British people. So we hope as many MPs as possible sign our early day motion making clear we hold the Russian state squarely to blame for this atrocity and support the Governmentâs response.
âSupport for strong action from members of parliament of all sides is necessary to face down this threat to our nation and the international rules-based system that Putin seeks to destroy.â
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