Gavin Williams: Open moouth, insert foot.

Tory Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson demonstrated the gulf between his government’s gunboat diplomacy, Jeremy Corbyn’s statesmanlike call for evidence, and Russia’s determination to shrug off all accusations against it over the Salisbury poisonings – by putting his foot firmly in his mouth at a press conference in Bristol.

Mr Williamson’s prime minister, Theresa May, has deliberately provoked Russian leader Vladimir Putin by prematurely claiming that the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last week was ordered by his government.

In fact, we still don’t know the origin of the substance. It is said to be “of a type developed by Russia” – but that is not the same as saying that Russia created and deployed the nerve agent used in this particular attack.

It is described as a ‘Novichok’, which is said to have been developed in Shikhany, in Russia, and tested at Nukus, in Uzbekistan. But the Nukus site has been dismantled by Russia, overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and with help from the United States.

So Russia can convincingly argue that it has no chemical weapons of the type described by Mrs May.

But her government – including Mr Williamson – insists on blaming that country, despite an alarming lack of evidence. On top of that, its members insist on using the language of the playground to attack both Russia and its leader.

It is a national embarrassment to the United Kingdom.

Here‘s the Daily Mirror‘s account of Mr Williamson’s performance:

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson … ordered Russia to “go away and shut up” over the Salisbury attack.

The Tory minister was asked at an event in Bristol whether he would consider a “military response” to Russia after ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent.

[He said:] “Frankly Russia should go away, it should shut up.”

See it for yourself:

The response from people in the UK was withering:

Mr Williamson even made matters worse with his follow-up comment:

And how did the Russians respond to Mr Williamson’s outburst?

They called him a “market wench”.

Here‘s the Mirror, again:

Russian defence ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said: “The market wench talk that British defence secretary Gavin Williamson resorted to reflects his extreme intellectual impotency.

“It proves the deficiency of London’s accusations thrown at Russia in the past but also the inadequacy of the accusers.”

The episode has underlined fears about the harm being done to the UK by the Conservatives:

And let’s all take a moment to consider Mr Williamson’s personal beliefs, as borne out by his voting record:

Gavin Williamson was elevated to Defence from the Whips’ Office after previous incumbent Michael Fallon resigned due to revelations about his behaviour toward members of the opposite sex.

It seems, though, that while Mr Fallon couldn’t keep his hands to himself, Mr Williamson can’t keep his tongue behind his teeth.

But then, consider the behaviour of prime minister Theresa May lately.

It seems none of the Tories understand the value of restraint.


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