Questions asked in Parliament
Rayleigh and Wickford MP, and former Defence Minister, Mark Francois, condemned the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, in Parliament last week regarding the sanctions being placed on Russia for their involvement in the Salisbury incident.
The Prime Minister set out in a statement to Parliament the government’s response to the Salisbury incident which included plans to expel 23 Russian Diplomats, increased checks on private flights, customs and freight, suspension of planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the UK and Russia – and Government Officials and Royal Family Members boycotting the Football World Cup.
After praising the Prime Minister for her “decisive and vigorous” action over this matter, Mr Francois said: “It was in stark contrast to the attitude of the leader of the opposition, who simply could not bring himself to condemn Russia for this outrageous act.
Corbyn, although still admitting the attack was ‘probably the work of the Russian state’, warned of jumping to conclusions to early.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I can say to my honourable friend that I am sure the people will take their own conclusions from what they have heard today but I do take a great deal of reassurance from the positive messages of support that come from the Labour backbenches.”
Billericay and Basildon MP, John Baron, raised the question of what response to take.
Mr Baron asked: “When it comes to the long term, given the actions of the Russian state under President Putin, has the time not now come for a fundamental reassessment of the level of our defence spending, preferably in collaboration with our allies, but alone if not?”
The Prime Minister responded that Britain is one of the few NATO countries to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence, and that parts of the UK’s response will not be by conventional means.
Speaking afterwards Mr Baron continued: “The Prime Minister’s robust response to Russia’s use of a chemical weapon in our country is absolutely right. Raising the defence budget would show that we take our security seriously.”