On the 4th March, a British national was the victim of an attempted murder on home soil, carried out by the agent of a “state actor”.
Whilst wading through the flotsam and jetsam of bungled Foreign Office tweets, Boris Johnson’s loose lips and some conspiracist nonsense, it is all too easy to lose sight of this one, frightening certainty.
Britain’s state sovereignty has been overtly breached, and the reticence from Corbyn’s faction of the Left to point the finger of blame is an obstacle to a successful response to this crisis.
No doubt, Johnson got it wrong. To say that Porton Down was “categorical” that the novichok nerve agent came from Russia was typically inept from a Foreign Secretary out of his depth, given that the laboratory released a statement saying that “we [Porton Down] have not identified the precise source”.
But there was something disturbing in the Left’s fevered protestations that May and Johnson were wrong, and that Russia is innocent. The Independent, once a supposedly moderate publication, yelped “this doesn’t look good on Theresa May”, seemingly more determined to score a tenuous point against an unpopular PM than to reasonably assess the evidence.
Corbyn decided to leave open the possibility—eliminated by the British government and other major allies—that a party other than the Russian state was responsible for the attack. He failed to directly criticize the Kremlin for it.
Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s chief aide, all bar accused the British government of lying: “I think obviously the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t; however, also there’s a history in relation to WMD and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly.”
Porton Down is a laboratory, and it is not the role of a laboratory to be a voice in international diplomacy. However, they did their job and “provided the scientific info to the government who have then used a number of other sources, some of them intelligence-based”.
On the basis of these other sources, it is perfectly reasonable to blame Russia for the attempted poisoning of the Skripals.
Russia was the inventor and main developer of novichok, and they have also previously demonstrated their willingness to poison people abroad – killing former spy Alexander Litvenenko with the radioactive element polonium.
Not only has the Russian government passed laws allowing for the killing of overseas defectors, but Russian officials and media outlets have repeated such warnings.
US intelligence services believe 14 people “have been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services”. Foreign governments have been compelled by this evidence and have expelled suspected Russian spies.
British criminal law requires proof “beyond reasonable doubt”. Given the weight of this evidence, and the conclusions drawn by numerous intelligence agencies across the globe, I would argue that any further doubts over the perpetrator of this crime are altogether unreasonable.
Far too frequently when it comes to matters of foreign policy, Corbyn and the far-left find themselves on the wrong side.
According to him, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine was the result of provocation by the West. Milne joins with far-right leaders to attend functions with Putin and his cronies. Corbyn and McDonnell defend the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The only thing linking these groups, other than their murderous violence, is their opposition to the West.
Even in his earlier days, as Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athists were ripping out the eyes of Kurdish children, Bush and Blair were Corbyn’s enemy, not the barbaric crooks that governed Iraq.
Corbyn’s “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy was harmless enough when he was an eccentric nobody protesting from the backbenches. It is unacceptable from the leader of the opposition.
Yesterday, an investigation by The Times revealed that British intelligence services identified the Shikhany research base, “Russia’s Porton Down” as the producer of the poison designed to murder the Skripals.
Thus have no doubt; Russia is the culprit of this crime. This time, Corbyn must choose the right side and prove his allegiance to Britain.