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4 Apr, 2018 09:44

Anti-Russia alliance under threat? Merkel ally and Labour MPs question May’s Salisbury ‘evidence’

Anti-Russia alliance under threat? Merkel ally and Labour MPs question May’s Salisbury ‘evidence’

Two Labour MPs and a senior ally of Angela Merkel have questioned the motives of the Tory government after the Porton Down defence laboratory revealed they couldn’t confirm that the Salisbury nerve agent came from Russia.

In a string of tweets, Labour MP Chris Williamson has taken aim at the conservative agenda, likening their severe sanctions on Russia on flimsy evidence to Tony Blair’s trigger-happy launch into the 2003 Iraq War based on bogus intelligence.

Williamson highlighted the criticism leveled at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for asking for unequivocal proof that Russia was behind the poisoning. Corbyn faced boos and hisses in the House of Commons, and mockery in the media – including doctored images used on the BBC that suggested that Corbyn was sympathetic to the Russian state.

“As you’ll remember, the BBC was echoing claims that Jeremy’s response to the poisoning of Skripal amounted to being soft on Russia,” Williamson wrote. “Rather than join in the hysteria, the Leader of the Opposition asked for clear evidence that Russia was to blame.”

Williamson pointed out that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had carefully selected her words when the Skripal scandal began, telling the world that it was likely to have been used by the Russian state, and that the UK could prove what the poison was. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, however, threw caution to the wind.

Johnson insisted that the chemical weapon used to attack Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury was of Russian origin. He told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle on March 20 that the evidence proved it was “absolutely categorical” that the chemical came from Russia.

As Johnson insisted to the world that the Novichok-type agent was Russian, the High Court was dealing with an application for further blood tests to be taken from the unconscious Skripals. In the hearings over the blood samples, evidence given by a Porton Down analyst was careful in its wording, avoiding affirming the origin of the nerve agent, subsequently casting doubt on the foreign secretary’s insistence of Russian involvement.

READ MORE: Exposed: Court documents cast doubt on Boris Johnson’s claim nerve gas is in ‘no doubt’ Novichok

In a TV interview, Porton Down’s chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, said on Tuesday that they are unable to confirm the origin of the chemical weapon used to attack Sergei Skripal, who is in critical condition, and his daughter Yulia, who is now stable.

Now officials from the UK’s allies are questioning the their actions. Armin Laschet, one of five deputy chairmen of the German chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union, questioned Britain’s push to persuade its allies that Russia was to blame.

“If one forces nearly all NATO countries into solidarity, shouldn’t one have certain evidence?” he tweeted. Laschet has criticized “Russia-bashing” in the past. He has welcomed Russia’s takeover of Crimea and its role in Syria.

On BBC4, Labour MP Diane Abbott also questioned why so many were eager to jump the gun and blame Russia. “I don't understand where Boris Johnson got that information from,” she said.

Political experts outside of Parliament have also questioned Johnson's apparent eagerness to dive head-first into conflict with Russia. Ex-British diplomat turned influential blogger Craig Murray revealed to RT that “foreign office sources told me two weeks ago that Porton Down were unable to say it was Russia but were under pressure by the Conservatives to say it was.”

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