England should ‘consider’ pulling out of the World Cup over Russian spy case – Emily Thornberry

Posted On: 
7th March 2018

England should ‘consider’ pulling out of the World Cup if the Russian state is implicated in the hospitalisation of a former spy, Emily Thornberry has said. 

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was speaking on the BBC's Today programme this morning

The shadow foreign secretary said England’s participation in the international sporting event should be “thought about quite carefully” but added that it should probably go ahead as planned. 

Relations between London and Moscow have come under increasing strain in recent days after former double-agent Sergie Skripal and his daughter Yulia were hospitalised.

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The pair were found unconscious outside a shopping centre in the Wiltshire town of Salisbury and are believed to have been exposed to an unknown substance.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday the Foreign Secretary appeared to imply that if the Russian state had any links to the incident England might be forced to withdraw from the World Cup.

However, Foreign Office sources later clarified that Boris Johnson had meant British officials could boycott the competition.

On the BBC’s Today programme this morning Ms Thornberrry said: “I think this is something that needs to be thought about quite carefully and to see Boris Johnson just deciding we were going to pull out of the World Cup on the hoof in Parliament yesterday was a surprise."

She added: “I think it’s certainly something that should be considered but my view would probably be that we should be proceeding with the World Cup.”

The Labour frontbencher also urged the Government to back Labour proposals that would enable tougher sanctions to be imposed on Russia in the future.  

“At the moment there is a sanctions bill going through parliament,” she said.

“We are trying to put forward amendments that would tighten legislation that would allow there to be much stronger sanctions where there have been abuses of human rights by the Russians. At the moment the Government are resisting that.”