Nia Griffith breaks with Corbyn to back May over Russian Federation
Nia Griffith breaks with Corbyn to back May over Russian Federation
Vladimir Kara Murza was poisoned twice in less than two years
16 March, 2018, 01:11
Jeremy Corbyn is struggling to maintain shadow Cabinet unity after senior frontbenchers signalled their dismay over his response to the Salisbury poisoning and the crisis in UK-Russia relations.
Mrs May proved her mettle.
Next week, 23 diplomats described as "undisclosed agents" will be expelled, while extra checks will be introduced on Russian private jets.
Asked why the Labour leader had not given his unequivocal support of the government in the Commons, she said: "He's made it clear in subsequent statements". As she said, Britain's grievance is not with the Russian people or its law-abiding citizens who have made their home here; it is with a rogue state which disregards the laws governing global democracy.
The anger only intensified when Mr Corbyn's spin chief Seumas Milne said the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq back in 2003 showed Government claims Russian Federation is behind the attack could be wrong.
But he warned against a "new Cold War" of "escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent".
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said that it was "quite clear" that, due to the nature of the chemical weapon used, it had been an "act of aggression".
Confirming Labour's support for Mrs May's actions, Mr Corbyn said: "We agree with the Government's action in relation to Russian diplomats".
Asked if she was at odds with Mr Corbyn on the issue, Ms Griffith said she was more "plain speaking" than her leader and said he had made it clear in "the subsequent statement that he put out" on Wednesday evening that Labour was "fully supportive" of the Government's actions.
Mr Corbyn condemned the "appalling act of violence", telling MPs: "Nerve agents are abominable if used in any war; it is utterly reckless to use them in a civilian environment".
The Welsh MP, 61, said: "Looking back, perhaps it would have been easier for us if he had made it clear at the beginning of what he said just how much we support the expulsion of the diplomats".
Ms Griffith's comments were quickly supported by several Labour MPs.
He said he totally condemned the attack and said "that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, that the global 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 Labour leader said that in the Commons he had asked "questions about the identity of the weapon, questions about the reference to the weapons convention and also the support of other allies", adding: "That's what Oppositions are there for".
There is growing tension and uneasiness among many within Labour about his response to the attack.
"Jeremy Corbyn was ill-advised to appoint him", Gapes told BuzzFeed News.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, is understood to have stressed that ultimate responsibility was hard to determine, while the shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer urged Mr Corbyn to condemn the attack - which he did, following May's statement.
Mr Corbyn said the PM appeared not to have ruled out the possibility that someone else may have obtained the toxin.
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