Jeremy Corbyn came under fire over his stance on Russia during his tenure as leader of the Labour Party following the publication of a new report on Moscow’s interference on UK elections since 2014. Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds was confronted over his party’s lack of action as he appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) to comment on the report. GMB presenter Ranvir Singh challenged the Labour frontbencher suggesting Mr Corbyn had “dropped the ball” and suggesting it was “easy” for Labour to call for Government action now.
Ms Singh said: “When you were on the frontbench under Jermey Corbyn, he also dropped the ball on this, didn’t he?
“During the Salisbury poisoning incidents, you were there. Did you condemn him privately or publicly at that point when he refused to condemn Russia for what was, clearly, happening in Salisbury. A crime on British soil.”
Mr Thomas- Symonds hit back: “I openly accept our response wasn’t robust enough.
“In terms of what I myself did at the time, I actually spoke from the frontbench in Parliament in a debate specifically on the Salisbury attacks.
Corbyn’s stance on Russia was put into question as Thomas-Symonds commented on the report
Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “dropping the ball” on Russia
“I actually quoted in that debate what the then Prime Minister had said about Russian responsibility and indicated my agreement with her. I made that clear at the time.”
He added: “Where we are now though, and I recognise fully Labour’s response wasn’t robust as it should have been then, is that we need to look at the last six years.
“I want the Government to acknowledge the chronic failures of the past 6 years to protect our democracy and our democratic discourse that has been under attack.
“And also to commit to implement the recommendations that are in this cross-party report that has been produced by the very respected Intelligence and Security Committee in Parliament.”
Thomas-Symonds admitted Labour had not been “robust enough” on Russia
He continued: “It contains a range of recommendations. Firstly in terms of Government itself, it’s quite remarkable that over the past six years there’s been no single minister responsible in Government for protecting our democracy.
“That has to change, There are then a number of laws the report suggests the Government needs to put on the statute.
“I’m willing to work with Government on that.”
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Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy also admitted Labour had “got it wrong” when it comes to the party’s response and stance on Russia.
Ms Nandy said: “I think we got it wrong on Russia and I made a feature of this during the Labour leadership campaign because I felt that it really needed to be said.
“When the Salisbury attacks happened, we prevaricated, we equivocated, we called for dialogue at a moment when chemical weapons had been used on the streets of the UK.
“What that did was to let an authoriatarian regime that has invaded its neighbours, that has interfered in elections across European democratic countries over several years, that has had an appalling record of human rights against its own people, against LGBT people, Muslims and other minorities, and used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK off the hook.
“We also let the Conservative Government off the hook because I believe they have been desperately slow to wake up to the threat that is posed by the current Putin administration.”