Boris Johnson accuses Jeremy Corbyn of ‘siding with Russia’ in ongoing row over Salisbury attack
Boris Johnson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “siding with the Russian spin machine” amid an ongoing row over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
The Labour leader today said the Foreign Secretary had “egg on his face” over claims he made about the origin of the Novichok nerve agent which left ex-spy Sergei Skripal fighting for his life.
But Mr Johnson hit back in a tweet this afternoon, accusing the Labour leader of siding “with the Russian spin machine,” and asserting that “28 other countries” had been convinced by the UK’s case against Moscow.
The Foreign Secretary said in an interview with German TV that an official at Porton Down was certain the deadly poison had come from Moscow.
But Gary Aitkenhead, boss of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, yesterday said it was not his job to identify where the nerve agent came from - only what it was.
Mr Corbyn said Mr Johnson had “completely exceeded the information he had been given,” and had “questions to answer” about the Government’s response to the attack.
“Boris Johnson seems to have completely exceeded the information that he had been given and told the world in categorical terms what he believed had happened,” he said.
“And it’s not backed up by the evidence he claimed to have got from Porton Down in the first place.”
He added: “Where does that leave the Foreign Secretary? Egg on his face for the statement he made on German television.”
But Security Minister Ben Wallace argued the Government had not issued contradictory statements, and noted that the accusation of Moscow was based on a “clutch” of intelligence.
Speaking to Radio 4 this afternoon, he added: “Porton Down will be able to tell you that there are very, very, very few people in the world who can develop - first of all, who did design Novichok.
“That was the Russians, who have developed and stockpiled it. In fact, the cast of that is reduced to one.”
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office was forced to delete a tweet also saying Porton Down had confirmed the Novichok had come from Russia.
A Foreign Office spokesperson explained: "An HMA Moscow briefing on 22 March was tweeted in real time to explain what happened in Salisbury to as wide an audience as possible.”