Labour splits deepen over Jeremy Corbyn's response to Salisbury nerve agent attack

Posted On: 
14th March 2018

Prominent Labour MPs have distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn by publicly backing the Prime Minister's response to the nerve agent attack on a former spy.

Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire from many of his own MPs.
PA Images

The Prime Minister told MPs "there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable" for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuria in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

By contrast, the Labour leader pointedly refused to lay the blame at the Kremlin, although he did condemn the attack.

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Mr Corbyn's spokesman went further by pointing to the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as proof that the Government's interpretation of intelligence is not always correct.

He also suggested that the weapons-grade material could have fallen into the hands of another country following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Many Labour MPs made clear their anger at their leader during a Commons debate on the poisoning.

It later emerged that John Woodcock, Chuka Umunna, Stella Creasy and Wes Streeting are among those who had put their names to an Early Day Motion "unequivcoally" backing the Prime Minister's crackdown, which will see the expulsion of 23 Russian spies from the UK.

The row is another sign of the tensions which remain between Mr Corbyn and the majority of the parliamentary Labour party, particularly over foreign policy.

But the Labour leader's spokesman hit back at his critics.

He said: "In these kinds of crises, there are often initial reactions which aren't necessarily later backed up by reality of facts.

"I think Jeremy's record in relation to judgement in relation to international crises is probably better than anybody else in the House of Commons.

"He's been proved to make the right call time and again over the last 15/20 years in particular, when many others made the wrong calls and some of those calls had disastrous consequences."