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Russian spy poisoning: Theresa May to visit Salisbury as nerve agent investigation continues

The Prime Minister will visit traders, residents and emergency service personnel in the English cathedral city

Joe Watts
Joe Watts
Thursday 15 March 2018 12:39 GMT
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Salisbury attack: Timeline of events

Theresa May will visit Salisbury on Thursday in the wake of the nerve agent attack that local traders complain has left the city’s centre like a ghost town.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed she would visit the city, which was the scene of the incident ten days ago involving a Russian-made novichok nerve agent.

Shopkeepers in Salisbury complain that fears over the nerve agent attack have seen residents abandon the streets hitting sales.

Ms May is also seeking to build on her statement in the Commons, which saw Tory MPs push aside months of division over Brexit to unify behind their leader, while Labour MPs fell out over Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to blame Russia for the attack.

Ms May’s spokesman said she would speak to emergency services, members of the public and local businesses and would also receive a briefing from Public Health England.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd was also chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee in London to discuss the latest situation.

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Michael Gove chaired a cross-governmental ministerial recovery group looking at support which will go to the people and city of Salisbury in the aftermath of the incident.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson: 'Frankly, Russia should go away, and should shut up'

The PM’s spokesman said subjects discussed included the clean-up of affected areas, while adding that the issue of compensation to businesses will be “looked at in the usual way”.

The Independent has reported how traders described the city as a “ghost town” and mothers refuse to take their children into the centre as fear continues to pervade more than a week-and-a-half after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned there.

They remain in critical condition and residents are staying away from the once teeming Wiltshire city to avoid the perceived threat of the “military grade” nerve agent.

Police said a total of 38 people had been treated for some degree of exposure to it and some residents are unwilling to risk their lives or those of their children.

The visit comes after Ms May dramatically announced in the House of Commons that she would expel 23 Russian diplomats, who she accused of being spies, along with a string of other measures.

The political trouble she got into following her delayed and then less-than-successful visit to the site of the the Grenfell Tower fire will also have played on the minds of her advisors.

Conservative MPs gave her approach broad support yesterday in a show of political unity, but Mr Corbyn's refusal to blame Russia for the attack in the same way saw his backbenchers going against their leader in the Commons, with two frontbenchers following suit this morning.

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