Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Britain to Expel Russian Diplomats over Nerve Agent

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Britain to Expel Russian Diplomats over Nerve Agent

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com @jonwalker121

BRITAIN is expelling 23 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

The diplomats are Russian "intelligence officers", Prime Minister Theresa May said.

She announced the measures in the House of Commons, as she said it was now clear the Russian government was behind the attack.

Many Labour MPs backed the Government, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took a different approach and suggested Russia might not be to blame.

The Prime Minister said Russia had failed to provide a "credible" explanation for how the Novichok nerve agent, which it had developed, came to be used in the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4. A police officer, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, is also in hospital in a serious condition after being exposed to the substance.

The Prime Minister said: "There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter - and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

"This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom."

Mrs May said the UK had cut off all high-level contacts with Russia, including ensuring no Government ministers or members of the royal family attend this summer's World Cup in Russia.

She also said the FA should be "considering their position" over whether the England football team should attend.

The Prime Minister told MPs that Britain will "freeze Russian State assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents".

The Government will take on powers to halt those suspected of hostile state activity at the border, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd will consider whether new counter-espionage powers are required.

Checks on private flights and freight traffic will be stepped up to detect and track those who could endanger the security of the UK. …

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