Published: Sat, March 17, 2018

Labour's Shadow Cabinet publicly split over Jeremy Corbyn's Russian Federation stance

Labour's Shadow Cabinet publicly split over Jeremy Corbyn's Russian Federation stance

Despite facing open criticism from party MPs, Corbyn reiterated his stand in a signed article in Friday's The Guardian, calling for a "calm, measured" approach and warning against the drift towards a "new cold war" with Russian Federation.

Doubling down on the cautious stance that infuriated some of his backbenchers on Wednesday, Corbyn used an article in the Guardian to urge the government to take a "calm, measured" approach and work through global institutions.

Mr Corbyn's official spokesman appeared on Wednesday to question the Government's use of intelligence material, telling reporters there was "a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly".

Theresa May had been right to identify that Russian Federation had either ordered a state-sponsored attack on the Skripals or had lost control of its nerve agent, he added.

Mr Woodcock said: "This is a time for the nation to speak as one so it was heartening that the overwhelming majority of MPs of all parties spoke so strongly in support of the strong package of measures outlined by the Prime Minister today".

The veteran leftie said: "We need to continue seeking a robust dialogue with Russian Federation on all the issues dividing our countries, both domestic and global, rather than simply cutting off contact and simply letting tensions and divisions get worse, and potentially even more risky".

May was still taking MPs' questions when she was asked about that statement. "Clearly this issue has to be followed on the basis of the evidence".

It said: "The leader of the opposition's response to the prime minister was dispiriting". And, "what response did the British government make to Russia's request for a sample of the nerve agent to test it?"

Mr Smith said: "This Guardian Editorial is absolutely right on Russian Federation - and the resolute, united strength we need to demonstrate in our response".

May harrumphed that the Russians had already been given a chance to explain where the nerve agent had come from, and then boasted that her government had attained "consensus" among the MPs.


Mr Corbyn's latest intervention risks widening a rift with backbenchers in his own party.

"Yesterday, we agreed that the evidence overwhelmingly points to those two alternatives".

There are many Labour MPs who oppose Corbyn's left-wing views, but there has been a truce since he led the party to a better than expected result in last year's election.

Labour former minister Pat McFadden earlier told the Chamber: "Responding with strength and resolve when your country is under threat is an essential component of political leadership".

Ms Griffith's position was supported by several Labour MPs.

"That means when chemical weapons are used, we need more than words, but deeds". Step forward the Labour leader's former deputy communications chief Steve Howell, who took to Twitter to express "surprise" that his MP Stephen Doughty had signed the Woodcock motion unequivocally accepting Russian culpability for the crime.

Asked whether Corbyn was concerned that his backbenchers felt differently about Russia's culpability, he replied: "In these kinds of cases, there are often initial reactions which aren't later backed up by reality or facts".

Speaking on a visit to Carlisle, Mr Corbyn said: 'I was extremely definite yesterday that I totally condemn this attack.

"In my years in Parliament I have seen clear thinking in an worldwide crisis overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgements too many times", Mr Corbyn wrote, citing the Iraq invasion, parliamentary support for attacking Libya, and the war in Afghanistan.

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