Senior Labour figures break with Jeremy Corbyn over Russian Federation stance

Senior Labour figures break with Jeremy Corbyn over Russian Federation stance

Pressure was growing on Jeremy Corbyn to back down over his stance on Russia's involvement in the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal this morning, after he was directly contradicted by two members of his frontbench.

Mrs May proved her mettle.

Corbyn backed May's decision to expel 23 diplomats, but suggested a financial crackdown on Russian oligarchs would be more effective.

Britain's opposition Labour leader and his spokesman cast doubt Wednesday on whether Russian Federation was to blame for the poisoning of a former spy, after the government announced sanctions against Moscow. 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.

"However, that does not mean we should resign ourselves to a "new cold war" of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent".

Nia Griffith, shadow defence secretary, quickly came out to support the Tory stance on removing diplomats from the United Kingdom, risking her job.

Several shadow ministers are known to have been angered by their leaders' tone, triggering speculation that Mr Corbyn could face resignations from his top team.

The attack in Salisbury was an appalling act of violence, which we condemn in the strongest terms.

Mr Corbyn said that Mrs May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the nerve agent - either Russian Federation authorised the attack or had lost control of the Novichok substance.

He added: "I think Jeremy's record in relation to judgement in relation to worldwide crises is probably better than anybody else in the House of Commons". The perpetrators must be brought to justice.

"Flawed intelligence and dodgy dossiers led to the calamity of the Iraq invasion".

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.

"And that is why we are fully supporting the expulsion of 23 diplomats", she told the Daily Mirror.

Yesterday Corbyn's normally loyal shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry also contradicted Corbyn and his spokesman.

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".

Mr Corbyn's spokesman's comments on Wednesday prompted Labour backbencher John Woodcock to table an Early Day Motion "unequivocally" accepting the "Russian state's culpability" for the attack, and supporting "fully" the statement made by Mrs May in the Commons.

She condemned them as "shocking" and "outrageous" and suggested Labour MPs who supported her approach would condemn them too.

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.

Anna Turley MP said: "I'm afraid Seumas doesn't speak for my Labour or British values".

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