Tories are manipulating the ‘nerve agent’ crisis to divert attention away from their dealings with Russia

The proof: This image is might even be accurate; we may discover that the only proof Theresa May has is a scribble of Mr Putin attacking Mr Skripal with an aerosol spray.

The Conservative Party’s narrative about the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is falling apart like a chocolate Flake bar – and only partly because Tory lunacy is getting worse by the day.

For a start, it seems the indignation at Jeremy Corbyn’s questions on the subject early last week was… misplaced?

Right-wingers took umbrage that the Labour leader was asking about matters they thought he should know, having been given all the details as a member of the Privy Council.

There’s only one problem with that: He wasn’t.


Jeremy Corbyn has not been given access to some top secret intelligence over the Salisbury poisoning, it has been reported.

According to The Times, the Prime Minister did not allow the Labour leader to be briefed on the attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the same way David Cameron allowed Ed Miliband to see key information held by the state ahead of the Syria vote in 2013.

Mr Corbyn was extended a briefing on the attack under privy council rules but was not given access to the same detail as Mrs May, the paper says.

Privy Council briefings on top secret information can be extended to other members of the house on the discretion of the Prime Minister.

However, in this case neither Mr Corbyn nor his chief of staff Karie Murphy were, nor were they invited to a national security council meeting.

So the Conservative Government denied Mr Corbyn access to any information regarding the nature of the nerve agent used, which the Tories described as a Novichok, of a type developed in Russia.

Want to know the problem with that?

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said that none of its members – including Russia – have admitted possession of any such substance.

In fact, Russia’s chemical weapons stockpiles were all destroyed by September last year, according to the same organisation. The UK and the US were among the nations that helped the Russians do it.

“There is no record of the Novichok group of nerve agents having been declared by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a press release on Friday. Nearly all countries in the UN are members to the OPCW, except for Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan.

The watchdog said open-source information on the agents in this class is sparse. It added that OPCW experts are searching through scientific and technical sources available to them.

That’s not to say for certain that Russia isn’t responsible – anyone can lie, after all – but the increasing wealth of information to counter the Tory narrative is leading more people to question what we’re being told:

And new evidence is appearing all the time:

So the Tories need to keep feeding us more drivel. Here’s a lie, courtesy of their lapdogs at The Times:

And some of us are asking serious questions about why the Tories are trying to divert attention onto Jeremy Corbyn by depriving him of information and accusing him over the lack, or suggesting that he is a stooge for the Russians with the help of their friends in the right-wing press. Some would say they know the answer:

On the subject of the Litvinenko affair:

The quotations state: “By 2013, the hearings had turned into a tug of war. On one side was Marina Litvinenko and her counsel, Ben Emmerson QC. On the other a government apparently unwilling to annoy Putin and fearful that British investors in Russia might suffer reprisals.”

“The foreign secretary William Hague submitted something called a public interest immunity or PII certificate. This meant that the government’s classified files on Litvinenko wouldn’t be made public. Crucially, it meant that the inquest wouldn’t be able to consider whether the Russian state had murdered Litvinenko.
Hague justified this drastic move on the grounds that openness would cause ‘serious harm to national security and/or international relations.”

“It continues: “The lawyer said: ‘The British government, like the Russian government, is conspiring to get the inquest closed down in exchange for substantial trade interests which we know Mr Cameron is pursuing.'”

“Cameron flew to Sochi for talks with Putin. It was a friendly encounter; the pair discussed Syria; there was no mention by the British of the awkward subject of human rights. Putin must have been pleased.

“Cameron’s blossoming friendship with Putin left the coroner in an invidious position. Reluctantly, he upheld in part the government’s request to keep secret material out of court. Without MI6’s files, the inquest would be a meaningless exercise. It would be unable to examine the question of Russian state guilt. In a further act of meanness, justice secretary Chris Grayling was refusing to pay Marina Litvinenko’s legal costs.”

The next part refers to a request to Theresa May (then Home Secretary) for a public inquiry: “May, however, was having none of this. In a reply in June 2013, she rejected [the] request. She offered six reasons for her refusal, including public expense. It was the sixth, however, which stuck out:

“It is true that international relations have been a factor in the Government’s decision-making. An inquest managed and run by an independent coroner is more readily explainable to some of our foreign partners, and the integrity of the process more readily grasped, than an inquiry established by the government… which has the power to see government material, potentially relevant to their interests, in secret.’

“May’s reasoning was legally dubious. That autumn, Marina Litvinenko filed a judicial review claim, asking the High Court to re-examine the government’s decision. In February 2014, three High Court judges ruled unanimously in her favour. They described May’s refusal as ‘irrational’ and ‘legally erroneous’.

“In its keenness to put trade above principle, the Conservative-led government had forgotten what the case was about.

“Marina Litvinenko observed: ‘I have never been able to see why the British government should want to protect the people in the Kremlin.'”

We could look at the issue of Russian money-laundering in the UK:

Of course, the Magnitsky clauses are back on the table now it’s convenient for the Tories.

All of the above leads us to the obvious question:

Bit of a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Unfortunately for the Tories, while they might have lost control of their senses, the rest of us certainly haven’t.

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