Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Theresa May's resolve over Russian 'nerve agent' shames Jeremy Corbyn

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Ellis Copeland | 16 March, 2018, 10:38

The Labour leader said that the "evidence points towards Russia" - but also suggested the poisoning could have been carried out by gangsters.

In an article for The Guardian, he says Theresa May must remain "calm" and "measured" in what is, he says, a "fevered parliamentary atmosphere". "I made that very clear yesterday".

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the lifelong Labour supporter said: "I'm very disappointed in Mr Corbyn".

He said he totally condemned the attack and said "that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, that the worldwide chemical weapons convention must be invoked, and the source of this weapon, which appears to be Russian Federation, either from the state or from a rogue element of the state, must be brought to justice as a result of it".

'The worldwide chemical weapons convention must be invoked and the source of this weapon, which appears to be Russian Federation either from the state or from a rogue element of the state, must be brought to justice as a result of it.

He added: "The evidence points towards Russian Federation on this, therefore responsibility must be borne by those that made the weapon, those that brought the weapon into the country and those that used the weapon".

Mrs May went on to criticise Mr Corbyn's response to her statement, claiming he "could have taken the opportunity - as the UK Government has done - to condemn the culpability of the Russian state".

The UK's response, said the Labour leader, should be underpinned by support for the rule of law and global agreements and respect for human rights.

"However, that does not mean we should resign ourselves to a "new cold war" of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent".

"Clearly whoever carried out the attack - and the prime minister said Russian Federation is culpable - is responsible for what was a completely heinous and reckless attack in a civilian area with banned weapons".

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But he added: "Measures to tackle the oligarchs and their loot would have a far greater impact on Russia's elite than limited tit-for-tat expulsions".

The Guardian quotes Corbyn saying that the Skripal poisoning was "an appalling act of violence".

He has previously said Britain and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies were guilty of "anti-Russian incitement", which was a "dangerous folly", along with writing a series of pro-Putin articles.

"There is a history between weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly", he told reporters, in reference to the Iraq War.

Corbyn's allies have leapt to his defence, with the Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeting that the Labour leader's detractors were "rightwing sods" who want to "beat the drums of war without a clear plan". The question now is how the wider world channels its outrage and holds Russian Federation to account for its bullying - Britain, with or without Mr Corbyn's acquiescence, can't do it alone.

"But in my years in parliament I have seen clear thinking in an global crisis overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgments too many times".

The "flawed intelligence and dodgy dossiers" used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq should serve as a warning against hasty judgments, he said.

Not to expel 23 Russian diplomats, and take other steps to protect Britain's national security, would have been an act of weakness on the Prime Minister's part after her 36-hour ultimatum to Moscow to provide a plausible explanation for the use of this chemical weapon, which it ignored.

The PM, in her response, thanked Ms Cooper for the tone of her comments and acknowledged they were "representative of many" on the Labour benches.

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