“Can it really be true that the Russians are equipping themselves to snap the undersea cables on which all our communications and finances depend? Afraid so. Are they actually positioning themselves to hack into our vital national infrastructure and disrupt it? Looks like it. Can they possibly maintain Soviet levels of espionage and covert activity in our free European societies? You bet they can. Are they flying aggressive sorties to test our air defences? Yup. And surely they’re not developing new chemicals and deadly poisons as well? Of course they are.” (William Hague, former U.K. Foreign Minister)
JEREMY CORBYN had just been told by the Prime Minister that Russia was “highly likely” to have carried out the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. The two had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. Yet, in his response, the Labour leader did not criticise the Kremlin. He did not even mention Vladimir Putin.
Instead, he warned Theresa May not to let tensions get worse (as if they were somehow her fault) by “cutting off contact” with Moscow. And then he attacked the Tories.
“Mr Speaker, we’re all familiar with the way huge fortunes, often acquired via the most dubious circumstances in Russia, have ended up trying to buy political influence in British party politics,” growled Mr Corbyn. “There has been over £800,000 worth of donations to the Conservative Party from Russian oligarchs and their associates!”
There was a moment of silent disbelief. The Prime Minister had just solemnly updated the Commons about attempted murder on British soil by, in all likelihood, a foreign enemy. But, far from setting aside party differences in the name of unity, the Leader of the Opposition was seizing the opportunity to score points against his political opponents. To judge from his manner, he sounded more worked up about his political opponents than he did about the attempted murder.
The disbelieving silence was soon replaced by disbelieving anger. That anger came from many members of his own party, many of whom have gone further and signed a formal note condemning his behaviour.
This is the man who would be Prime Minister of Great Britain, the man with a massive social media following, adored by “the younger voter”, the man welcomed by the EU negotiators in their hope of undermining the Brexit referendum. He has been condemned in almost every newspaper I have checked this morning, even the utterly left wing Guardian has done so. Most sickeningly though, but not surprising, there is no headline report on today’s BBC.