Russia: Don't rule out mafia-style hit, urges Corbyn

In an op-ed written for the Guardian, he doubled down on his position that more evidence is needed, adding that the government must not jump to conclusions in the "fevered" atmosphere of Parliament.

Mr Corbyn has condemned the attack but says the involvement of Russian "mafia-like groups" cannot be ruled out.

Mrs May has blamed the Russian state for the attack with a Soviet-developed nerve agent that left Mr Sergei Skripal and his daughter in a critical state in hospital.

Doubling down on the cautious stance that infuriated some of his backbenchers on Wednesday, Corbyn used an article in the Guardian to urge the government to take a "calm, measured" approach and work through global institutions.

The Labour leader has demanded the Government take a "calm, measured" approach over fears we could drift into a "new Cold War" with Russian Federation.

"To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security", he writes.

On Thursday, amid calls for him to be firmer in his condemnation of Russia, Mr Corbyn said the "evidence points towards Russia on this".

Corbyn said he supported the expulsions, but added that "measures to tackle the oligarchs and their loot would have a far greater impact on Russia's elite than limited tit-for-tat expulsions".

But later in an article for the Guardian newspaper, he drew a link with the build-up to the war in Iraq and warned that "clear thinking in an global crisis" could be "overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgement".

Earlier in the week, Mr Corbyn pressed the PM on whether the United Kingdom had supplied traces of the nerve agent used in the attack to Russian Federation for analysis before Wednesday's deadline, as the Kremlin had asked.

And in further signs of a split at the top of the party the Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the attack in Salisbury should be "condemned by all of us without reservation" and that Russian Federation was responsible - "no ifs, no buts".

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According to the Russian agency, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said, that the Russian authorities will inform the British authorities, as soon as they know more.

Among the 131 people who have been identified as potentially being in contact with the nerve agent, none have shown any symptoms.

Labour legislator Chris Williamson, a Corbyn ally, called the critics "irrelevant malcontents" who were trying to undermine the party leader.

On BBC One's Question Time, he said the attack "deserves to be condemned by all of us without reservation".

It follows Mr Starmer's words last night, when he gave his unqualified support to Mrs May's approach, telling BBC1's Question Time: "I think it is very important that we support the action the Prime Minister laid out on Wednesday as a response to this unprovoked attack".

"This horrific event demands first of all the most thorough and painstaking criminal investigation, conducted by our police and security services".

"Jeremy is right to say let them get on with their job".

And Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said her party "very much accepts" Mrs May's assessment that Russian Federation is "responsible for this attack".

"We very much accept what the prime minister said", she told BBC Radio 4.

Earlier this week the Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry insisted Russian Federation has a "prima facie case" to answer, to which it had offered no defence.

Corbyn, a life-long socialist known for standing by his convictions, faced ridicule and worse in the House of Commons by refusing to blame Russian Federation, as May announced a series of retaliatory measures, including the expulsion of 23 diplomats. He was jailed by Moscow in 2006 for secretly working for Britain's MI6 but was later released and allowed to come to the UK.

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  • Sonia Alvarado