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Corbyn's man slammed for attack on security services over poisoning

Corbyn's man slammed for attack on security services over poisoning

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a growing backlash from Labour MPs for failing to explicitly blame Russia for the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil. This afternoon, to grim nods in the Commons, Theresa May.

Labour's Mike Gapes, former chair of the foreign affairs committee, said Milne's remarks were "deplorable" and "exactly what I would expect from a man with his political history and friendship with Putin".

A group of Labour backbenchers said it "unequivocally accepts" the Russian state's culpability for the incident, while Theresa May said it was "outrageous" that Mr Corbyn's spokesman had said there was a "problematic" history over the use of United Kingdom intelligence.

The motion was swiftly signed by a number of prominent critics of Mr Corbyn, some of whom went public with their criticism of the leader's senior aide.

The Labour spokesman said the Government may have more information.

He told reporters: "The Government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don't".

He said: "There is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly.' Prime minister Theresa May said she was "surprised and shocked" by his 'outrageous" statement.

Speaking in response to May, Corbyn had stressed the need to gather evidence and abide by global law, underlining the role of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague. Mr Corbyn said the PM appeared not to have ruled out the possibility that someone else may have obtained the toxin.

"In the meantime I think it is essential we follow the evidence and what the evidence produces", he added.

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He echoed comments made by Corbyn that the agent could have fallen into a third party's hands, saying "The break up of the Soviet state led to all sorts of material ending up in random hands". "Clearly this issue has to be followed on the basis of the evidence".

Anna Soubry, who has herself been critical of Ms May in the past, said: "It is noticeable that the length and breadth of this place has completely supported not just the wise words and the leadership of the Prime Minister but also her firm actions, with the notable exception of the front bench of the Opposition".

Asked directly whether Corbyn believed Russian Federation is responsible for the attack, he said: "I think clearly, as I said, it's important to follow the evidence and to be guided by the evidence".

He said: "We welcome the decisive action which has been taken by the Prime Minister today and it sits in contrast with the policy of appeasement that we have heard from the front bench of the Labour Party".

The comments from Mr Corbyn's spokesman prompted Labour backbencher John Woodcock to table a parliamentary motion "unequivocally" accepting the "Russian state's culpability" for the attack and supporting "fully" Mrs May's Commons statement.

He said: "If the government believes that it is still a possibility that Russian Federation negligently lost control of a military-grade nerve agent, what action is being taken through the OPCW with our allies?"

In response, Ms May called on the Labour leader to directly condemn the "culpability" of the Russian state.

"Support for strong action from members of parliament of all sides is necessary to face down this threat to our nation and the worldwide rules-based system that Putin seeks to destroy".