Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a statement to the House of Commons following the suspected use of a Russian nerve agent on British soil.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the response of the Russian government to the incident in Salisbury.

First, on behalf of the whole House, let me pay tribute once again to the bravery and professionalism of all the emergency services, doctors, nurses and investigation teams who have led the response to this appalling incident.

And also to the fortitude of the people of Salisbury. Let me reassure them that – as Public Health England have made clear – the ongoing risk to public health is low. And the government will continue to do everything possible to support this historic city to recover fully.

Mr Speaker, on Monday I set out that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok: a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia.

Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations – including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets – the UK government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act.

And there were only two plausible explanations.

Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.

Or conceivably, the Russian government could have lost control of a military-grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

Mr Speaker, it was right to offer Russia the opportunity to provide an explanation.

But their response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.

They have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they lost control of their nerve agent.

No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law.

Instead they have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.

So Mr Speaker, there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.

And as I set out on Monday it has taken place against the backdrop of a well-established pattern of Russian State aggression across Europe and beyond.

It must therefore be met with a full and robust response – beyond the actions we have already taken since the murder of Mr Litvinenko and to counter this pattern of Russian aggression elsewhere.

As the discussion in this House on Monday made clear, it is essential that we now come together – with our allies – to defend our security, to stand up for our values and to send a clear message to those who would seek to undermine them.

This morning I chaired a further meeting of the National Security Council, where we agreed immediate actions to dismantle the Russian espionage network in the UK, urgent work to develop new powers to tackle all forms of hostile state activity and to ensure that those seeking to carry out such activity cannot enter the UK, and additional steps to suspend all planned high-level contacts between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation.

Let me start with the immediate actions.

Mr Speaker, the House will recall that following the murder of Mr Litvinenko, the UK expelled four diplomats.

Under the Vienna Convention, the United Kingdom will now expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers.

They have just one week to leave.

This will be the single biggest expulsion for over thirty years and it reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian State has acted against our country.

Through these expulsions we will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the UK for years to come. And if they seek to rebuild it, we will prevent them from doing so.

Second, we will urgently develop proposals for new legislative powers to harden our defences against all forms of Hostile State Activity.

This will include the addition of a targeted power to detain those suspected of Hostile State Activity at the UK border. This power is currently only permitted in relation to those suspected of terrorism.

And I have asked the Home Secretary to consider whether there is a need for new counter-espionage powers to clamp down on the full spectrum of hostile activities of foreign agents in our country.

Mr Speaker, as I set out on Monday we will also table a government amendment to the Sanctions Bill to strengthen our powers to impose sanctions in response to the violation of human rights.

In doing so, we will play our part in an international effort to punish those responsible for the sorts of abuses suffered by Sergey Magnitsky.

And I hope – as with all the measures I am setting out today – that this will command cross-party support.

Mr Speaker, we will also make full use of existing powers to enhance our efforts to monitor and track the intentions of those travelling to the UK who could be engaged in activity that threatens the security of the UK and of our allies.

So we will increase checks on private flights, customs and freight.

We will freeze Russian State assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents.

And led by the National Crime Agency, we will continue to bring all the capabilities of UK law enforcement to bear against serious criminals and corrupt elites. There is no place for these people – or their money – in our country.

Mr Speaker, let me be clear.

While our response must be robust it must also remain true to our values – as a liberal democracy that believes in the rule of law.

Many Russians have made this country their home, abide by our laws and make an important contribution to our country which we must continue to welcome.

But to those who seek to do us harm, my message is simple: you are not welcome here.

Mr Speaker, let me turn to our bi-lateral relationship.

As I said on Monday, we have had a very simple approach to Russia: engage but beware.

And I continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation.

But in the aftermath of this appalling act against our country, this relationship cannot be the same.

So we will suspend all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation.

This includes revoking the invitation to Foreign Minister Lavrov to pay a reciprocal visit to the United Kingdom and confirming there will be no attendance by Ministers – or indeed Members of the Royal Family – at this Summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Finally, Mr Speaker, we will deploy a range of tools from across the full breadth of our National Security apparatus in order to counter the threats of Hostile State Activity.

While I have set out some of those measures today, Members on all sides will understand that there are some that cannot be shared publicly for reasons of National Security.

And, of course, there are other measures we stand ready to deploy at any time, should we face further Russian provocation.

Mr Speaker, none of the actions we take are intended to damage legitimate activity or prevent contacts between our populations.

We have no disagreement with the people of Russia who have been responsible for so many great achievements throughout their history.

Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way.

But we will not tolerate the threat to life of British people and others on British soil from the Russian government. Nor will we tolerate such a flagrant breach of Russia’s international obligations.

Mr Speaker, as I set out on Monday, the United Kingdom does not stand alone in confronting Russian aggression.

In the last twenty-four hours I have spoken to President Trump, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron.

We have agreed to co-operate closely in responding to this barbaric act and to co-ordinate our efforts to stand up for the rules based international order which Russia seeks to undermine.

I will also speak to other allies and partners in the coming days.

And I welcome the strong expressions of support from NATO and from partners across the European Union and beyond.

Later today in New York, the UN Security Council will hold open consultations where we will be pushing for a robust international response.

We have also notified the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about Russia’s use of this nerve agent. And we are working with the police to enable the OPCW to independently verify our analysis.

Mr Speaker, this was not just an act of attempted murder in Salisbury – nor just an act against UK.

It is an affront to the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

And it is an affront to the rules based system on which we and our international partners depend.

We will work with our allies and partners to confront such actions wherever they threaten our security, at home and abroad.

And I commend this Statement to the House.”

45 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s be clear. Putin is a manipulative bully. He will carry on pushing the boundaries of provocative behaviour until someone takes him down a peg.
    I believe this attack in Salisbury was deliberately contrived by Putin to isolate the UK from our friends and allies. Believing that Brexit has made us vulnerable his intent is to make us a victim by provoking impetuous action by the UK which is not agreed by our allies. His strategy is divide and conquer.
    He is gambling that high profile UK people linked to Russian money will make it impossible to use unexplained wealth orders. We must hope he is mistaken.

    • I doubt Putin had any hand in this recent attack. What I feel is happening is the implementation of contracts identified in some cases years ago, under the old Soviet Union. A bit like a fire and forget missile? The perpetrators are most likely to be sleepers who answer to no one. If they continue, it will damage Russia and regardless of what people say about Putin, he will not enjoy having loose cannons at work on his, or the States behalf.

      • One other perpetrator may be closer to home than Russia. In recent months, numerous retired UK senior officers have been warning of impending cuts to the UK’s defence forces, and equipment. There are powerful voices and organizations who would consider applying pressure on the government, and what better way, than a so-called Russian crime. Who would know the principle victim’s background, apart from the Kremlin? Our own security forces knew exactly who he was and his hometown. One thing is for sure, any further planned cuts to the MOD as from last week, will have to be reconsidered or shelved? Job done…..or is it pure nonsense???

      • An interesting thought. Beyond my pay grade. Bad luck for Vladimir.
        Maybe ‘ the sins of the fathers are to be laid on the children’?
        The Merchant of Venice.

        • If you are right and taking the broader view the underlying issue remains; that of Russian oligarch culture and the failure to evolve a robust, healthy democracy.

  2. Never have I felt more angry watching a British MP deliver a response in parliament as i was watching Jeremy Corbyn yesterday. The man is a wimp as much as he is deluded. The hard left is as big a danger to the security of the UK then anything Putin can throw our way.

  3. Addressing the issue head on, there was a rush to condemn Russia, from the beginning since it’s a nerve agent, everyone is like “it must be a state and that state must be Russia”. Well, there are a lot of different groups or even states it could be, to drive a wedge between the UK and Russia, and it seems the idea of the nerve agent itself was to make it easy and safe to put together..

    The problem is that you have the likes of Ian Blackford SNP leader of the Commons who supports the UK Gov, and you have Sturgeon the FM also SNP who support them, and both are in a position where they may have been shown some form of evidence that is not available to the likes of us. Indeed, if it is intelligence base, that can’t be revealed as it can compromise both agents and even methods used. To that end there are still secrets from the Second World War taken to the grave, as they show methods which may still be in use, and may reflect philosophies which determine some current practices.

    I still have my doubts about the whole thing, and in a democracy it’s right that people can express them, keeps the government, parliament and democracy on its toes, and something that perhaps differentiates the UK from Russia if we believe all we read. In this case Corbyn who is also Privy Council has backed the actions, and from his actual wording did anyway, though he really isn’t very good at expressing himself at times.

    For context by the way, I’m probably one of only a handful in the UK who keeps an open mind about Blair and the 45 minute WMD. Why? Because if it’s intelligence base it’s better to let it go rather than weaken the intelligence services and endanger lives, and as an ex-PM Blair should still be prepared to put country before self and take the hit reputation wise.

    • “Well, there are a lot of different groups or even states it could be, to drive a wedge between the UK and Russia”

      What states or groups might these be out of interest?

      • North Korea, China and others too delicate to mention including even Islamic State so-called. Anyway, I’ve possibly lit a bit of blue touch paper and am retiring to a safe distance o-)

    • Nah! it’s not just this one incident. There is a clear pattern of Russian behaviour whose common thread is to disrupt the West with calculated divide and conquer strategies which appeal to the lowest aspects of human responses in Crimea. His Russian ‘volunteers’ in the Ukraine shot down a passenger airliner. In Syria he is keeping in power a monster who is murdering children en masse. He is supporting Turkey over the Kurds and with missile sales in order to weaken Nato. He has hacked the German Ministry of Defence calculating he can get away with it because Merkel is weaker than she was and Germany needs Russian gas.
      He has attempted murder in Salisbury calculating that Bexit and her parliamentary majority make our PM too weak to respond. Russia has been found guilty of interfering in the US elections. I fully expect enquiries in the US to conclude that Trump’s ambivalent attitude to Russia is founded in unsavoury business links.
      I trust our government and the findings of the scientists at Porton Down. This is about the rule of international law.

      • The US’s attitude toward Russia which by the way under Trump has sent MORE troops to Europe. In addition to putting more sanctions on the Russian government than any European government. Has been to do as much as can be done without removing assets from the Pacific or the QRF in the US. Hence the ambivalence.
        Add that to both the United States and Russia reserve the right to assasinate citizens they regard as traitorous. Whenever the country hosting them doesn’t turn them over. Again if he had been a member of the CIA who had turned traitor he would have had a candlelight dinner with a drone or a tragic car accident. So it is a little hard for anybody in the US to generate moral outrage.

        • I maintain my point re Trump = Money = Russia. We need to wait for the US justice system wheels to turn.
          Accept the perceived US priorities Asia vs Europe but think Trump has got them wrong. IMO China is a competitive power you can do deals with which they will keep. Putin is gratuitously destructive (of western civilisation) – the EU, Nato, the UN….
          This car accident injured a British policeman and was therefore constitutionally an attack on the British state. Bad luck for Putin and I suspect the perpetrator…

      • Lies like the British establishment has freely used. Promising the same plot of land to three different groups at the same time?

        During World War I, the British hoped to rally support for their cause. As the fall of the Ottomans seemed imminent, they began promising Ottoman lands, specifically Palestine, to various groups.

        First, the Jews. The Balfour Declaration, in support of the Zionist movement, argued that Britain would support a Jewish state in the Holy Land.

        Second, the Arabs. T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia), who worked alongside the Arabs, promised that they would receive their own independent states following the Ottoman collapse. (Whether or not he knew this was lie, is another matter — but somewhere up the chain of command, someone knew it was a lie).

        Third, the French. With the Sykes-Picot Treaty, Britain and France agreed to split up the Middle East between themselves. This treaty was secret, but again, someone had to know that the previous other two promises were false.

        Over time, we’ve seen each of the three promises fulfilled. Unfortunately, mistakes like this in the handling of Middle Eastern independence are a big reason why the state of affairs there has been so disastrous.

        You can’t trust the British establishment!

  4. Putin was gambling that Mrs May would be indecisive in her response to the Salisbury attack and that a delay would result in western allies wobbling in their support. The speed and assertiveness of her response has caught him off balance. Even Corbyn has been brought into line.

  5. 18% in Sky Data poll say Corbyn’s doing “good job” in relation to Russia. 57% say “bad job”

    TMay gets 61% saying good job to 29% bad job

    So the LAB leader is a net 71 points behind May

  6. Firstly it’s such a shame that this has turned into party politics, there should be questions asked about Theresa May’s response, because let’s face it getting rid of 23 diplomats is hardly going to teach Putin a lesson is it, Putin rules through controlling the super rich Russians, who quite a lot happen to reside in or have business in London, to hurt Putin it is clear from most analysis that the only way we can do that is by targeting the Russians in London, hit Putins friends.

    It’s clear, although not very clear from reading 90% of the mainstream media since yesterday, that the loudest shouts of “shame” and “disgrace” by MP’s yesterday was when Corbyn mentions Russians in Londod and tories trying to block a UK version of the Magnitsky Act which would target these ogliarchs. I’ve watched Corbyns response a few times and there is very little difference from that and the joint statement today, it just seemed entirely rational and reasonable to me.

    Secondly, there has been quite a bit of information posted online about this incident in the last few days from analysists from former UK ambassadors to guys in Canada that are trying to give a clue as to what or who could be behind it, there is a link that’s mentioned on these blogs to Orbis intelligence, Christopher Steele and the Trump dossier, also LinkedIn profiles being deleted on Monday with addresses in Salisbury connected to Orbis intelligence. Christopher Steele and another MI6 officer Pablo Miller were based in Moscow at the same time Sergei Scripal was feeding us information. It’s reported in US media that it was Pablo Miller who recruited Scripal.

    Now this is not me saying it wasn’t Putin, this is me saying that this isn’t Russian sending a 1000 tanks across a NATO border, or massacring 100’s of civilians that’s all over the news, this is Jason bourne style stuff involving double agents for Christ’s sake, anyone who thinks they know what happened when a Russian double agent is attacked with a nerve agent is as crazy as the guy that did it! Nobody knows what happened, the only person who does is the government or agency that is behind it.

    So it’s either Putin ordered an assassination using a nerve agent that was created in Russia on a guy he had in a Russian Jail for 4 years, over 10 years after he was released, using what must be the dumbest assassin in the history of assassins. Or something else is at play here, was Scripal into something else? Did he know stuff about the Trump dossier? Who knows. But if anybody has read any book on covert intelligence knows that there could be so many explanations, and what’s usually the case is that the truth begins to emerge 10, 20, 30 years down the line through memoirs or a public enquiry.

    Lastly I find it hilarious that people are using a sky poll of a 1000 people, I think of the US election and the absolute horror the MSM and politicians had when Trump said he wanted to be friends with Putin, and they seemed amazed that most of the public actually wanted that too, perhaps it’s actually better being friendly and having a good relationship with a country that could turn your own country into a smouldering hell on earth, I’d like to think most rational people in the UK would want that to.

    Also going by twitter, not the overall feeling I know but it’s usually a good guide when measuring labour voters (as a lot of the young vote labour) is that most are still backing Corbyn, infact more so because of the response, it’s reminding me of after the Manchester attack and Corbyn said our part in the Middle East had an affect on terrorist Attacks in the UK, it was headline news for 3 days, his own party turned on him, but then when asked the overwhelming majority of not just young labour voters but the country actually agreed with what he said. But that’s politics for you, there is always another angle that people will take.

    Btw if anyone wants links to the blogs about Orbis Inteligence etc just ask and I’ll post.

  7. Putin thought it would be good to strike the UK during brexit thinking the UK would not get the international support.He thought wrong as it seems and more facts will come out against putin im sure. TH Russian troll bot stick to RT they will believe your BS on there.

  8. On SoSD speech yesterday he talked about army divisions, airborne brigades, a carrier task group and commando forces, not amphibious forces and a commando brigade….

  9. Come on Williamson….”Russian should go away and shut up”….just sublime use of the English language…… The shame of it. I bet he looked back on that and thought why the hell did I say that……

  10. Flipping Heck………. Reading through all the Above Comments Took an age……. It’s a Good Job the UK has so many Keyboard Warriors……. No Enemy would dare Attack…………

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