Jeremy Corbyn has again called for "incontrovertible” proof of Russian involvement in the Salisbury chemical attack. Boris Johnson’s reaction to the demand for evidence was to call the Labour leader ‘blind.’
Corbyn told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that he wants concrete proof that Russia was behind the Skripal poisoning. "I want to see incontrovertible evidence of it,” Corbyn said. "I am appalled and alarmed at the idea that anyone would use this nerve agent and clearly it was an attempt to murder the Skripals on British soil.
"Sadly, it's not the [OPCW's] job to identify who made it or necessarily where it was made. I think we do need to strengthen the role of the OPCW in the future."
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in no mood to wait for proof, said that Corbyn’s comments demonstrated his "blindness to reality" after inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) last week backed the UK government's findings that ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with military grade Novichok.
"It's quite extraordinary, in the view of the weight of evidence now – Novichok used in assassination attempts on door handles, the hacking of Yulia Skripal's mobile phone – to continue to deny the likelihood of Russian involvement, a state-sponsored assassination attempt, I think is quite extraordinary and a sort of blindness to reality that I find very, very perplexing,” Johnson said.
It is not the first time that Corbyn has faced criticism for his reluctance to blame Russia. In the days following the attack on the Skripals, Corbyn called for prudence when pointing the finger at Moscow, stating that Russia should be provided with a sample of the substance for their own analysis.
As a result, the Islington North MP’s naysayers came out of the woodwork – some even from within his own party. "Does anyone seriously think Putin will say 'thanks for the sample,’” Labour MP Ian Austin said. “’We have now examined it and yes, I'm sorry to say that it did come from Russia and was then given to one of our agents to murder Mr Skripal in the way we have murdered lots of other opponents?' Who thinks that?"
While he has faced attacks, Corbyn’s position has also been praised. Corbyn was hailed as “the voice of sanity and represents the opinions of the majority of the British people” by right-wing commentator Peter Oborne for his response to the alleged chemical attacks in Syria.
Conservative pundit Peter Hitchens even jumped to Corbyn’s defense.
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