Belfast Telegraph

Why Labour MPs must declare war on Corbyn over Russian nerve gas attack

Jeremy Corbyn has drawn criticism for his comments over the nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Jeremy Corbyn has drawn criticism for his comments over the nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal

By Chris Moncrieff

Jeremy Corbyn has dealt a damaging - if not deadly - blow to the Labour Party by his questioning of the Government's conviction that Russia was to blame for the nerve gas attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. His words in the Commons were greeted with scarcely disguised fury by Conservative MPs and - far more importantly - by clear noises of dissent from some Labour backbenchers, appalled at their leader's attitude, which some saw as unpatriotic.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, performed an impressive act of political contortion by saying he agreed with Theresa May's assertion that Russia was behind this attack and, at the same time, he defended Corbyn by insisting that the leader was merely doing what a responsible Opposition should do, in challenging the Government.

Corbyn is now well-ensconced in the Labour leadership. Two attempts to dump him failed miserably.

Even so, Labour MPs now have a duty to declare war on Corbyn and to demonstrate to him that his attitude towards this event is out of order.

If they want to save the Labour Party from the depredations of the Left-wing Momentum movement, they must let Corbyn know that they have had more than they can stomach of hard-Left activities.

Some have even talked of setting up a rival party, as happened with the creation of the short-lived SDP in the early-1980s.

If Corbyn was confronted with this kind of threat, it might wake him up to the fact that many of his backbenchers now mean business and that the party's future could be at serious risk unless he changes course.

Perhaps someone would gently point out to the anti-fracking campaigners that their protests could be fraught with far more danger than they envisaged. That is the trouble with people who don't properly think things through.

Britain is reliant, to a certain, although, admittedly, by no means critical extent, on Russia to keep us properly supplied with gas.

And now, with the cold war in danger of escalating over the Salisbury poisoning outrage, Moscow is warning of further possible action against the United Kingdom if tension continues at its present, high level.

And this could mean Moscow switching off the tap which helps - if only to a small degree - to keep Britain's energy requirements up to speed.

As has been pointed out, there are enough shale gas reserves beneath the surface, especially in the north-west of England, to keep the UK supplied for decades to come.

For Britain to have these resources and not to use them, especially in times of crisis like the present, is verging on the criminal.

So, I hope the Government makes this point to the anti-frackers and that they take on board the irresponsibility of their actions.

Russia may not be a prime supplier of gas to us, but, anyway, it is ludicrous that we have to import so much at all when we have unused resources of gas beneath our own feet.

Our politicians will soon have to move out of Westminster for six years while the crumbling parliamentary building undergoes a thorough architectural overhaul before it collapses.

So, why not give them a treat and relocate them for this period in the fine city of York, which has just been named the best place to live in the UK?

What with regular complaints that everything is too London-centric, York would seem an ideal alternative.

It has a wonderful history, has great travel connections and everything else you could wish for. Surely, somewhere could be found to accommodate them over this period?

If the European Parliament can trundle its circus around, what is to stop Westminster doing the same?

I cannot think of anywhere else more suitable. Give it a go.

The sum of £50,000 may be scarcely a ripple on the surface in the great scheme of things, but that is no excuse for wasting it.

However, that is just what the parliamentary authorities have been doing, thanks, in part anyway, to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow.

He commissioned a consultancy to redesign parliament's famous portcullis logo, because it is, allegedly, "confusing and inconsistent".

Bunkum and balderdash. It is certainly not confusing. When did you last hear of anyone complaining about being confused by it? And what is it supposed to be inconsistent with?

The work is now done. A few dots have been removed and occasional squares have been turned into circles. There have been a few other minuscule alterations, barely noticeable to the naked eye, and the background has changed.

How on earth this added up to £50,000, heaven only knows. I know of people who would have given up five minutes of their time and done it (if it needed doing at all) for 50p.

It is no good politicians preaching the virtues of austerity at us, while they embark on such wasteful, disgraceful and scandalous spending sprees themselves.

While on the subject of the Speaker, whatever does John Bercow think he is doing with a "B******s to Brexit" sticker on the car he uses? Even if this is the work of his Labour-supporting wife, Sally, that is no excuse.

This would seem to be a flagrant breach of the convention that the Speaker remains totally impartial at all times.

I would have thought that those MPs who would like to see the back of him now have more than enough evidence to oust him from the chair.

But none of them, so far, has dared to take that final crucial step which would do the trick.

Belfast Telegraph

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