Boris Johnson has "egg on his face", says Corbyn

by Garry Watts April 6, 2018, 1:58
Boris Johnson has

Boris Johnson told German television Porton Down had been "categorically" sure the Novichok agent used in the attempted murder of former double-agent Sergei Skripal had come from Russian Federation.

Amidst calls in social media for Johnson's resignation from the Tory government, other Labour leaders are also speaking out.

"What the Foreign Secretary said then, and what Porton Down have said recently, is fully consistent with what we have said throughout".

"Porton Down said they could not and would not identify where it had come from".

Britain's Porton Down biological and chemical weapons laboratory on Tuesday announced that the toxin was in a category of Soviet-era nerve agents called Novichok, although they could not yet determine whether it was made in Russian Federation. "And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, "Are you sure?' And he said, 'There's no doubt".

The Foreign Office told the HuffPost it had deleted the tweet, which was recounting a Moscow briefing by British Ambassador Laurie Bristow, because it "was truncated and did not accurately report our Ambassador's words".

Speaking during a local election campaign visit to Watford, Mr Corbyn said: "He claimed categorically - and I think he used the words 101% - that it had come from Russian Federation". Attempting to explain the deletion of its initial tweet backing Johnson, a Foreign Office spokesman limply explained that it had been an "inaccurate summary" of remarks made by the British ambassador in Moscow. Porton Down have not said that.

"We have not identified the precise source", Aitkenhead said, though he added creating such a substance was "probably only in the capabilities of a state actor".

"Where does that leave the Foreign Secretary?" I don't know which it is but we need a responsible, cool approach to this.

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"We need to get to the source of this to prevent it ever happening again".

His Shadow Cabinet colleague Diane Abbott also challenged the Foreign Secretary to explain his earlier comments, saying it seemed he had "misled the public".

In a series of tweets, the Foreign Secretary hit back.

Mr Corbyn said: "He claimed on German television that this was a Russian-produced nerve agent and Porton Down then examined it and said all they could identify that it was Novachok".

"At the end of the day it is pretty clear that Boris Johnson was not telling the truth", the Derby North MP said.

Boris Johnson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of "playing Russia's game" after the Labour leader criticised the UK's Foreign Secretary over his handling of the Salisbury spy poisoning.

Twenty-six countries, including the United States, have joined Britain in expelling Russian diplomats after the poisoning.

When asked for clarification on Mr Johnson's comments about Russian Federation being the source, a Foreign Office source told Sky News he "misspoke", but that they could "see that" interpretation.

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