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Westminster today - as it happened: Theresa May says Russia 'highly likely' behind poison attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter

Follow the latest updates from Westminster

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
,Chris Baynes
Monday 12 March 2018 18:37
Theresa May: 'highly likely' Russia was responsible for poisoning of Sergei Skripal

Theresa May has said it is "highly likely that Russia was responsible" for the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The Prime Minister has been been updating MPs on the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, following warnings from a senior Tory MP that the incident amounted to "state-sponsored attempted murder".

This live blog has now ended.


Welcome to The Independent's politics liveblog, where we will be bringing you the latest updates throughout the day.

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 08:29

Theresa May has come under pressure to plan strong retaliation against Russia over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, ahead of security talks with the Cabinet and after a fresh warning to people in Salisbury.

Story here:


Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 08:49

The attack on Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is "looking awfully like it was state-sponsored attempted murder", the chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs committee has said.

Tom Tugendhat said he would be surprised if Theresa May, who is chairing high-level talks on the Salisbury nerve agent attack, did not blame the Kremlin.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a bit too early to be absolutely certain of that but we are expecting to see the Prime Minister make an announcement soon.

"And, frankly, I would be surprised if she did not point the finger at the Kremlin."

Mr Tugendhat warned that football fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup may be at risk of harm if tensions escalate between London and Moscow.

He said: "We do need to be very, very careful for British fans who are travelling there that they are not in any way caught up in the politics of this.

"And, I'm afraid the danger of Russia responding to British fans for actions taken by their government is all too real."

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 08:58

Another story driving the day today is alleged bullying at the top of the Labour Party, ​after a shadow cabinet minister accused members of Jeremy Corbyn’s staff of “aggressive, intimidating and wholly unprofessional” behaviour.

Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said her experience highlighted “a bullying culture of the worst kind”, adding that she would be making a formal complaint to party officials and parliamentary authorities.

Story here: 

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 09:04

Theresa May is in danger of damaging the UK’s reputation because her pledge to create a “global Britain” after Brexit is merely a slogan, MPs warned today.

Ministers are unable to explain what is meant by the Prime Minister’s phrase for maintaining the UK’s international prowess outside the EU, the highly critical report said.

​Story here:

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 09:20

Labour’s general secretary should not be elected by the membership as it could run the risk of establishing an alternative power base in the party, according to a prominent ally of Jeremy Corbyn. 

Chris Williamson waded into the row over who should succeed Iain McNicol as general secretary, which has exposed fault lines on the left of the party.

Story here:

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 09:31

David Davis has not visited Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland since September 2016, and Boris Johnson has not visited the border since he became Foreign Secretary in July 2016, MPs have discovered.

Labour's Conor McGinn and Wes Streeting uncovered the information through a series of written parliamentary questions, which will raise questions on the Government's approach to the Irish border issue after Brexit.

It comes after Boris Johnson got into hot water over a leaked to Theresa May, where he claimed “it is wrong to see the task as maintaining 'no border'" on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Mr McGinn, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, said: “It is beyond belief that David Davis hasn’t even bothered to visit Northern Ireland since September 2016 given how vital the issue of the border is to the whole Brexit process.

“The serious point here is that the Government keeps insisting there’ll be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, despite their reckless decision to drag the UK out of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

"But how can we take them at their word when the minister responsible for delivering Brexit has apparently visited Northern Ireland just once since he took on the job over 18 months ago, and has apparently never even visited the border?”

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 09:57

Several MPs have come out to defend Debbie Abrahams, who has accused Jeremy Corbyn's office of bullying after it announced she had "stood down" from her role as shadow work and pensions secretary over a "workplace issue".

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 10:12

Here's the order paper for later today in the Commons, although the real drama will come if the Speaker decided to grant urgent questions on bullying allegations in Parliament, or the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. 

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 10:24

The public will be urged by the Government to suggest tax changes to curb plastic pollution, amid growing criticism that ministers are dragging their heels.

A “call for evidence” on how tax incentives could cut the amount of single-use plastics – such as cutlery, foam trays and coffee cups – that end up littering the land and poisoning the seas will be launched.

Philip Hammond is expected to announce the call in the Spring Statement tomorrow.

Story here:

Lizzy Buchan12 March 2018 10:32

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