The powerful nerve agent that poisoned a former Russian spy in Salisbury was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow for the UK, sources claim British intelligence now believes.
The Soviet-era Novichok chemical could have been impregnated in the clothing of the 33-year-old Yulia Skripal, and senior sources are “convinced” it was hidden somewhere in her luggage, The Telegraph reports.
Ms. Skripal flew to London from Russia on March 3rd, according to counter-terrorism police.
Another theory is that is was hidden in a gift that was opened in the home of the former double agent, Sergei Skripal, in the quiet, genteel cathedral city of Salisbury.
Mr. Skripal, 66, and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the city on March 4th, and remain in a critical condition.
Chemical warfare experts from the nearby Porton Down facility have confirmed the pair were struck by the Russian-developed nerve agent. Prime Minister Theresa May has pinned the blame on the Russian state and given 23 Russians, who are said to be spies working under diplomatic cover at the London embassy, one week to leave the country.
The United States, Germany, and France have backed the UK and Thursday called on Russia to explain how the military-grade chemical weapon came to be used on the British mainland.
Russia has denied any involvement, called the UK government’s claims “insane”, and accused the British of stirring anti-Russian sentiment.
Motion being scrambled by Labour MPs to back PMs view that Russia definitely culpable – taking v different line to Corbyn pic.twitter.com/XdfmkiGtCK
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 14, 2018
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly refused to publicly condemn Russia, claiming the British intelligence services could be unreliable, as he alleges they were before the Iraq war.
In an article for The Guardian, published Thursday, he wrote that Mrs. May must remain “calm” and “measured” in what is a “fevered parliamentary atmosphere”.
Adding: “In my years in parliament I have seen clear thinking in an international crisis overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgements too many times.
“Flawed intelligence and dodgy dossiers led to the calamity of the Iraq invasion. There was overwhelming bipartisan support for attacking Libya, but it proved to be wrong.”
Mr. Corbyn’s position has caused anger among Labour MPs, with a group of them, led by John Woodcock, defying their leader and tabling a motion offering full support to the Tory government’s position.
Stephen Kinnock MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr. Corbyn’s Guardian article “hasn’t helped to clarify the situation”. He dismissed the comparison with the Iraq War, adding: “That sort of drift to conflict is not on the agenda at all.”
Jeremy Corbyn is now taking his chance to argue against sanctioning Russia for potential murder on the UK’s soil as he views that they do not work.
Strange, given he previously argued they should apply to Israel, while he was on Russia Today.
So, what’s his real view on them? pic.twitter.com/amPmbYnbrV
— Alastair Thompson (@AlastairJT) March 12, 2018