Tonight’s Times has a YouGov poll conducted on Wednesday night and Thursday daytime, giving us our first steer on the public reaction to the poisoning in Salisbury.

73% of people in the poll think that Russia is responsible for the poisoning, 21% are unsure, 5% don’t think it was Russia. There is also broad public support for the government’s reaction – 60% support the measures they’ve announced so far and 14% are opposed. Asking more specifically about the response of the party leaders, 53% think Theresa May has responded well to the incident, 23% badly; 18% think Jeremy Corbyn has responded well, 39% badly (and 43% don’t know).

SkyData had a poll earlier on today which asked similar questions about how well respondents thought May and Corbyn were dealing with Russia, with very similar results. They found 61% thought May had done a good job, 29% a bad job; 18% thought Corbyn had done a good job, 57% a bad job.

Returning to the YouGov/Times poll, the voting intention figures are CON 42%(+1), LAB 39%(-4), LDEM 7%(nc). I’m sure people will be tempted to interpret that as Labour’s support taking a hit from their reaction to the poisoning… I’d be very cautious before concluding that. The changes are within the margin of error, and nothing we haven’t seen before (for example, while YouGov’s last few polls have shown Labour just ahead, they had another poll in early February showing a small Tory lead that turned out to be just a blip). If we see other polls showing a drop in Labour support then it will be a fair conclusion, but a relatively small change in a single poll could easily be co-incidence.

703 Responses to “YouGov/Times polling on the Salisbury poisoning”

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  1. Ultimately people who think corbyns attitude on such matters is unacceptable are already not voting for him. Those who want bothered by it seem unlikely to start doing so just because of this.

  2. Ugh, ‘aren’t bothered’ not want.

    The other thing is that movements like these even if backed up by other polls often seem to be fairly temporary as people apparently take a bit of time to process whatever happened and then revert. I’m not sure this story has the legs to make any lasting impact. Russia will probably expel some diplomats tomorrow and that’ll largely be that, especially if it snows again at the weekend!


    Both polls show that just 18% think Corbyn responded well.

    That’s less than half of those who – as you say – vote for him.

    Whether that proves to be significant is another matter and will largely be proven, one way or another, by “events”.

  4. I agree. Even an event with the geopolitical significance of Salisbury largely fails to impinge upon the bubble of the average UK resident.

    Also, the sheer invisibility of the attack and the lack of visual material for the media to work with guarantees that it won’t have the impact of a bombing or a tower block fire.

    I’d be very surprised if there are 1% of voters who could credibly be swung towards the government over the incident, or 0.1 % of voters who could be swung by criticism of Corbyn’s reaction.

  5. Such events as Salisbury do not tend to show up on issue trackers, either individually, or as part of a broader set, so may not be that salient. Even a really broad set, like law and order or security tends, to come quite a bit lower than things like the economy, unemployment, NHS, and these days, immigration.

  6. What might start to impact polls is the perception that Labour is still split.

  7. NICKP

    That’s very true – and probably more than just a perception.

    The silly stuff about the favourite for Gen Sec is unlikely to help in that either. Really no idea why people tweet such rubbish when they know it will get picked up at some point.

  8. When I heard Corbyn’s response, I could not understand why MP’s and people outside had reacted in the way they did.

    Corbyn was not supporting Putin or Russia, but was simply asking questions about the Salisbury case, as well as wider issues. Corbyn is leader of the opposition and is entitied to ask uncomfortable questions. He is not there to support Government and believe every statement they issue as 100% factual.

    Perhaps if more MP’s had asked questions of Blair before the Iraq war, the UK might not have become as quickly involved. Also more questions to Blair on the purpose of the Afghanistan campaign and what future they envisage for the country might have saved so many armed force personnel from losing their lives or facing the rest of their lifes with serious injuries/illness.

    At the time decisions were being made about Iraq/Afghanistan I fully supported the Blair Government, but in hindsight I wish MP’s and media had asked serious questions, rather than mostly support the Government position. Democracy is not served properly by a mood to support Government without question. It cannot be right that a leader of the opposition is criticised for asking the difficult questions they should be asking.

  9. NickP, (et al.)
    “What might start to impact polls is the perception that Labour is still split.”

    Yes. Though the split and fall off in polling worked to their advantage last time. Tories might be tempted to a new election!

    It is very early days to assess the impact of this. I dont think it will take 10 years for the dust to settle politically as with the Blair fiasco, but if as I expect May’s threats against Russia turn out to be completely hollow, this may end as counter productive for her.

    Russia and Putin in particular have several paths for gain here. Its actions against people it regards as traitors are an object lesson to others and boost its international standing as able to exert its authority abroad. Putin becomes the hero for extending the reach of Russia.

    If there is some kind of retaliation it will succeed or fail to be effective. Either way, Putin will portray himself and Russia as under attack, for purposes of boosting his home support. If retaliation fails (most likely, I would think), then western threats are seen as wholly empty and his credibility rises further at home, and also with other nations abroad, particularly any which might be faced with choosing between the west and Russia.

    The only reason to use nerve gas is in order to create a diplomatic incident, so if Russia is responsible, they wanted the international argument to take place because they believe they will benefit.

    So what to say about a PM who gives them what they want?

    Maybe Corbyn understands international politics and conflict better than most. He has experience. Perhaps he sees a long term advantage in his position. Being populist but wrong is a tricky position if that is where May ends up.

  10. Russia, probably through some franchised hit operation, have behaved despicably here. Corbyn could and should have reacted more firmly and decisively in this matter. Not a time for a flip flop response.

  11. Perhaps I have missed something in all this, but it seems to me that there are several questions which the media (especially Tory supporting/anti Corbyn) are not asking:

    1. How is it that MI5 is incapable of protecting someone who, quite plainly, thought coming to the UK was a better option than staying in Russia? (i.e. is this not a UK government failure)

    2. How is it that the UK government allowed such dangerous chemicals to be brought into the country?

    3. Do we know where the nerve agent was administered? Media talk about ‘on the streets of Salisbury’, but that is only where the victims were found, not necessarily where the poison was administered.

    4. Is there any such thing as ‘the Russian State’ independent of the various powerplaying mafia/business/personal – almost monarchical – Putin self glorification world of Russian politics?

  12. @R Huckle

    Politics, like the discourse in many areas of life, is very prone to the easy quick answer and rapid response, despite the tendency for this to be ineffective.

    Truth is often found by a longer, deeper analysis and avoiding snap judgements. I think that this is where JC may not operate well. I think he is someone who thinks a bit deeper, but as this case shows, our politics and media coverage of it like snap, knee-jerk judgements and sound bites.

  13. @john B – latest reports suggest that the nerve agent was hidden in the daughter’s luggage when she visited Moscow, so would be quite hard to detect while also explaining the lack of visible evidence of physical intervention on the street of Salisbury.

    General comments: I’ve refrained from commenting so far, as this is one of those ridiculous issues where all of a sudden everyone on UKPR is suddenly an expert on chemical weaponry, international espionage and extremely deep level security policy, whereas in truth, no one has the remotest idea of what really went on.

    On the politics and polling of it, I suspect Corbyn has made a mistake of presentation here. I agree with @R Huckle, that he hasn’t said anything particularly devastating, but my suspicion is that as he tends to get stuck into a rut of aggressively blaming ‘hated Tories’ for everything, he was unable to frame a response in which he could have asked precisely the same questions but without sounding overtly politicized. Bad presentation, not for the first time.

    His point in the HoC about cuts to the diplomatic service, for example, are completely correct – it has degraded a great deal of UK’s abilities overseas – but also completely pointless to the matter in hand. Wrong time. He did not behave like a statesperson, which he could have done while also asking May to be sure of her ground but reassuring her of opposition support in defending the UK from such attacks.

    Interestingly, he tried something very similar during the election campaign after the Manchester attack, when he raised policing levels as a political issue. very brave, and very well judged, because voters see a connection between police numbers and protection from terror. This time, complaining of cuts to embassy staff just sounds like trying to help Russia.

    As for the poisoning itself – the level of commentary here has been pretty poor I feel. The suspicion of HMG coming from some quarters is rather saddening. Posters will know that I’m no fan of this administration, but to invent l!es about a nerve agent attack for no apparent reason? I think not.

    In these matters we are going to struggle to get definitive proof, and so we come down to balance of probabilities. This is always going to be a difficult area on which to frame the diplomatic response, as well as judge our and other government’s. What does sadden me is the willingness of some to discard the abundance of evidence against Russia because of some sense that UK governments are somehow just as bad.

    In Russia, we have a state led by a leader that is consistently and progressively slipping down the ladder of global decency and respectability. They are so untrustworthy and desperate for national status and glory that their security forces and government organised a comprehensive doping program at the olympics on a scale not seen since the East Germans. This even involved digging a secret tunnel in the olympic organisation’s independent test lab that was checking samples during the games, so that secret service agents could swap the contaminated samples of their own athletes.

    How do we know this? Because former Russian athletes and their trainers (some of whom helped run the doping program) blew the whistle. What’s more, Russia as a state is so completely defective that these whistleblowers are now living in the west under constant protection due to legitimate threats to their lives, including from within the machinery of state.

    A state that has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the depth of state sponsored corruption in sport and athletes standing up for clean games living in fear of attack for speaking out? That’s one small example of the kind of society we are dealing with here.

    For my money, the simplest thing is to judge the case on Russia’s response. Let’s assume we’re dealing with a normal country, that accepts normal standards of international diplomacy, and let’s also assume that they weren’t responsible for this attack. How would they respond?

    Denial, obviously, but rather than pitch into a Trump like twitter war against the UK, which let’s remember included veiled threats against Russian exiles in the UK, why not just explain that during the fall of the USSR it is possible that some nerve agents left the country illegally?

    Why not express concern for the injured policeman at least? Why not offer assistance in tracking down the culprits, full security cooperation, checks at Moscow airports where the daughter visited recently etc etc. The kind of thing we might expect from, say, Germany, or the US, or any other nation with the exception of North Korea?

    None of this means we can ‘prove’ Russia did it, but it should give the Russian apologists pause for thought. Put it this way – if this wasn’t down to Russia, then they’ve only got themselves to blame for the fact that everyone thinks it is. For example – would any of you give a moments thought to it being true if someone accused Belgium of this crime?

  14. Well, as I suspected in my post about the Sky poll last night, maybe the mainstream polls are a changing, although I quite agree that one swallow, a summer does not make, so we need to wait for another three or four to confirm a firm shift.

    If Mrs May plays this right, this could be her Falklands moment. When a foreign power commits an act of chemical warfare on its soil, which by definition is an act of aggression against the people of the UK, regardless of the actual target, then what most people want is a robust response from their government, not some peacenik clown, inviting the perpetrator round for afternoon tea and a discussion on jam making.

    The chemicals were probably smuggled in, in a diplomatic bag and if they can do that to attack two people (and affect dozens more in the process), then they can do it to kill many more by putting it into the water supply. I just do not understand the complacency of some on here, to defend the indefensible. Putin had plenty of opportunity to put his side of the case and chose not to. Rather he instructed his news agencies to treat it all as a joke.

    And despite what someone here said yesterday, it is very heartening to see a joint statement from, the US, Germany and France utterly condemning the perpetrators.

  15. ALEC

    Thanks for taking the time to write what i would have liked to do; I thought you dealt with every point really well.

    As for Corbyn – he certainly seems a man of principles but that doesn’t always make for good politics. And since he obviously thinks that he has the answer to many f the UK’s problems then getting elected does seem to be quite a significant priority.

  16. Robert Newark

    Nicely put as usual Robert.

    Nick P

    “What might start to impact polls is the perception that Labour is still split.”

    Well it clearly is and this may well have impact. We shall see.

  17. @Alec

    I agree entirely. I think the right tone for Corbyn would have been to offer his party’s wholehearted support for the government’s efforts to get to the truth of the matter, agree with their provisional judgement that on the circumstances so far identified that it is probable that the Russian state is culpable but finish with a rhetorical flourish along the lines of “and of course I know that the Prime Minister is fully aware of the importance of not rushing to judgement, and I trust that the government is looking at all of the possible lines of enquiry, wherever they may lead. This is a grave breach of international norms and requires the most strenuous efforts to get the best possible evidence as to who was responsible”.

    As you say, inherently not a different position, just a very different way of expressing it. I suspect that innate hostility to the British state (not without reason, of course) rather than just the Tory party is probably the root of the problem.

    I also think the comparison with the Manchester bombing is a wise one. You characterise Corbyn’s capitalisation on that event as “brave” and “well-judged”. Personally I thought it was opportunistic and stomach-turning, but I suppose in terms of the polling effects it was “well-judged”. But it perhaps has given him the idea that every cloud has a silver lining, and that he can convert everything that happens into an attack on the government without risk.

    In terms of the Labour divisions, I think it comes down to establishment vs anti-establishment. Corbyn and Momentum represent a trend which is decidedly anti-establishment, and which is seeking to ride the populist wave that has been seen in various parts of the world. However, most of the PLP see themselves as very much part of the establishment. This is both because of an inherent belief in the establishment, and because they think the public prefers to vote for solid, dependable, consensual politicians rather then firebrands. Only time, and polling, will tell who has taken the pulse of the electorate more accurately.

  18. CROFTY
    ‘As for Corbyn – he certainly seems a man of principles but that doesn’t always make for good politics.”

    That is, perhaps, parliamentary politics – it works better on the hustings.
    Further, rather than as, I think, Alec suggested it does not make him less of a statesman.
    If you think of his response as part of, and consistent with a package of, by now well known and respected concerns, not all of which are expedient, it is the package and eventual meaning and effect of Corbyn’s otherwise impolitic interventions which, taken together with more considered and planned policy measures, that adds up.

  19. One might say that Corbyn’s stance might not be ideal in terms of immediate media and polling glory. However, if it turns out that, as with Iraq, things are not quite what they seem with the Salisbury thing, Corbyn might come out of it a bit better than Theresa and her followers in the longer run.

  20. From Craig Murray this morning

    “I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation”. ……….. “To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany”

    Now where have we heard this before ?

    “When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD “

  21. I’d be quite surprised if Porton Down were able, in the circumstances, to identify the site of manufacture. It seems something of a straw man argument – along the lines of “if Russia was responsible there’d be scientific evidence of this”.

    Incidentally, there was a former UK ambassador to Russia on the BBC this morning stating his view that it was very likely to have been a Russian action. Mr Murray is quite an unusual “former ambassador”. Other opinions are available.

    Personally I think the comparisons to Iraq, whilst relevant, are overblown. Blair was working to a political imperative. He had already promised the Americans he’d been on board and was retrospectively trying to engineer grounds that would convince parliament and his own party that the action was legitimate.

    It’s hard to think of a similar motivation for May – without restorting to quite extreme tinfoil-hattery. If intelligence pointed to this having been the Democratic Party, or Israel, or a Russian crime syndicate, I am not sure the UK government would have a massive interest in deliberately framing the Russian government. It’s not as if a diplomatic spat with Putin is going to do us any good.

  22. @John

    I suppose what it boils down to is this. If Corbyn was PM when this happened, what would he do?

    I expect what he’d do is say “the investigation is ongoing and I am not going to comment on it” and then do nothing else. The investigation would then, in all likelihood, not produce sufficient evidence to allow a judgement of who was responsible “beyond reasonable doubt” (after all, Novichok agents were designed not to leave much trace, and it seems that the method of delivery ensures that most of the evidence will be in Russia, out of reach to the UK).

    After 12 months, the matter would be quietly dropped, and Russia could get on with planning the next escalation.

  23. @ OLDNAT / SAM (from last thread – NI) – Just expanding out on what I think OLDNAT is eluding to.

    Background I think we can all agree on:
    -EC clearly see NI as the way to force UK into BINO – their best outcome.
    – DD was foolish to agree the sequencing of talks and has been doing everything possible to fudge the issues into one ever since. It has wasted a lot of time but did eventually fudge phase1 although Barnier quickly then split phase2 into two sub parts so hence UK side has achieved nothing of substance.

    We don’t really know how detailed the ‘framework’ for future arrangements will be by the Autumn but let’s assume we have transition in principle maybe not next weekend but soon after, with a bunch of caveats that keep the pressure on UK to solve the NI issue (see link). Let’s assume the ‘framework’ is still fairly vague – Canada with a few association agreements and possibly some enhanced equivalence for services.

    EC have clearly stated no sector by sector pick and mixing but NI is clearly unique so if NI issue drifts past Mar’19 and into transition this would clearly work well for EC. They can effectively drag out transition until they are satisfied NI situation is resolved. Say we get near to Dec 2020 then they can charge UK for ongoing transition and offer UK nothing more than BINO. Pay, no say, still effectively in CU so any new trade deals will be very limited in scope and require a cumbersome customs arrangement.

    I can’t really see any angle where procrastination works for UK. We shouldn’t be looking to waste money or raise concerns but clearly some ‘trial’ of new technology needs to be started and asap. Although ‘nothing like it yet exists in the World’ we’re not starting from zero either. Some brief acknowledgment that it will be minimal infrastructure and as frictionless as possible and get the trails going.

    Before anyone shouts GFA. Then the GFA did not consider a scenario where by UK leaves EU. It doesn’t need to be ripped up, but it is clearly out of date and out of scope in the new circumstances. No agreement or treaty lasts forever, the core principles can remain but they will always need updating to new circumstances. Brexit is very much new circumstances.

  24. ALEC

    A thoughtful and well expressed analysis of the situation. I pretty much agree, though I wonder if Corbyn may be causing him and his party more damage than some think.

    If the country in the dock was not Russia but some other place with a dictatorial regime such as NK his criticisms of the government that they shouldnt be so quick to attribute blame would go down much better. But we’re talking about Russia here, and he has made comments in the past that some people have considered as taking a somewhat pro-Russian line such as those over the Ukraine/Crimea. And then there is his comment that he’d like the UK to leave NATO, not forgetting his desire to rid the UK of its nuclear deterrent.

    His comments over the Salisbury incident will make it a lot easier at the next GE for the Conservatives to accuse him of being anti-British and untrustworthy when it comes to defence and security matters. When they tried this in GE 2017 over his alleged historical links to Irish republicanism it had little effect because it was so long ago that many voters have no living memory of that period, and those who do are inevitably older and not inclined to vote for Corbyn anyway. But Salisbury is a current incident. Use of a military grade nerve agent on the UK mainland by a foreign power, quite apart from putting innocent civilians at risk, is such an extremely serious matter that I dont think people will forget it quickly.

  25. P.S. The EU draft does mention ‘special committees’ for NI. I mentioned soon after the 28Feb first draft that this feels like a ‘can kicking’ exercise that allows UK to procrastinate and EU to keep us in BINO. We’ll see what happens but it feels a lot like a trap to me.

  26. HoC N Ireland Affairs Committee has published a report concluding that no progress has been made on developing a solution to the border issue:

  27. Corbyn is an idiot. He has some good policies, but he himself imo is not a good leader (certainly not inclusive)He is very stubborn and thinks he’s always right (like many politicians in truth).He definitely has some dodgy mates (as do quiet a few other politicians).
    Personally, I don’t like him as labour leader, but I’ll hold my nose and vote for the useless one, as there is no one else to vote for, if your working class, and you want rid of a Tory government that caters for the rich.

  28. @Crofty – thankyou.

    @Neil A – likewise. For the sake of clarity, I was referring to Corbyn’s intervention after the Manchester terror attack as well judged in strictly polling terms. While I felt it was a legitimate point to make at that time. I am aware that others will have found it distasteful.

    As a general point, one thing I am increasingly disturbed about is the modern trend for conformity. The fact that we see Corbyn’s intervention on that issue as unusual is in itself unusual. While we are apparently now more able to exercise free expression and have supposedly greater political freedoms than ever before, in certain ways we seem to be more and more constrained into an overwhelming orthodoxy.

    Two examples that cross my mind: For centuries, British people have been willing to openly criticise their monarchs. Today, the media and social pressure to respect the royals seems intense, and it is extremely difficult to air meaningful criticism of royalty in the mainstream media.

    A second example is in issues of foreign affairs. This week the BBC talked of ‘a convention’ whereby the opposition supports the government on matters of foreign policy. Not something I’ve ever heard about before.

    During WW2 we had parliamentary by elections where candidates stood against the government and were savagely critical of Churchill and the conduct of the war. Today, no one is allowed to critique HMG in matters of national security it seems.

    I’m not sure what this means, or why it is happening, but we need to keep open a fully democratic debate about everything we do, else we lose the very point of democracy.

  29. @Pete

    ‘but I’ll hold my nose and vote for the useless one, as there is no one else to vote for, if your working class, and you want rid of a Tory government that caters for the rich’

    And in a nutshell, that is what the Tories are up against. But does it hold sway? The working class largely voted for Brexit, which is being delivered by the Tories. It’s hard to fathom what Labour would do with Brexit as their policy is clear as mud, but all soundings seem to suggest they will maintain freedom of movement to some extent. Most likely the key reason working class people voted to leave.

    The IFS only the other published data showing that income inequality has come DOWN following the financial crisis and the Tories getting back into power.

    The image of the Tories favouring the rich is hard to shake even if it’s not true.

  30. @Neil A
    ” After 12 months, the matter would be quietly dropped, and Russia could get on with planning the next escalation. ”

    And thats what will happen in this case too .. we’ve been here before.

    to quote Macbeth

    It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing.

  31. DANIEL,well it is true and I may be working class, this does not however I speak for the working class.

  32. YouGov tabs are up.

    I remember the terror attacks and Corbyn’s use of them for political point scoring just before the GE. It didn’t hurt LAB VI then so this could well be a ‘blip’ along AW’s cautionary advice although it does feel like Corbyn has over stepped the political point scoring this time.

    The bigger issue is LAB hoping to gain any switch voters or at least encourage CON VI to abstain. As CMJ has shown before, Corbyn’s leadership rating (unfort not asked by YouGov this week) does note bode well for his chances of becoming PM – at least not without some form of SNP deal.

    ABL or at least ABL with Corbyn+McDonnell in charge is a powerful reason for a polling day boost for CON and possibly some abstain from LAB VI. In the recent GE most people expected a comfortable CON win and we saw drop in older voter turnout, etc. Complacency amongst ABL voters should encourage higher motivation to vote for CON next time (unless Corbyn and ideally McDonnell are replaced of course) and also voters will know voting LAB as an ABC means possibly seeing Corbyn as PM. FPTP seriously hurts smaller non-geographic niche parties. I’d be very curious to see a poll that asked ‘if UK had proportional representation who would you vote for’. Assuming people understood the question I’d expect both main parties to drop but LAB bleed out the most (with Greens and LDEM benefitting of course).

  33. 2 obvious points about the impacts of the Salisbury incident:

    1)Matters of foreign policy bring out the Corbyn’s biggest liabitlity-weak, inability to name something for what it is etc. etc.

    2)The only likely lasting impact will be the growing rift in the Labour party.

  34. @Kentdalian

    You’re probably right.

    I suppose the issue is whether the electorate prefer to do nothing loudly, or do nothing quietly, when their country is attacked with chemical weapons.

    My personal view is that the only diplomatic response that might scratch the Russian insouciance would be to organise a boycott of the World Cup, perhaps with a replacement competition organised on the hurry-up in the UK or elsewhere. Looking at the finalists, about half are UK allies of one sort of another. If 50% of the teams withdrew (including many of the “big” ones), the competition would become something of a damp squib.

    The alternative competition could invite key nations that didn’t qualify for the World Cup finals as “wild cards” to fill the places of any team that stuck with Russia (plus of course Russia itself). They could be selected in a way that made the competition more attractive (by picking “big” teams that didn’t make it to the finals) or reinforced alliances (by picking important countries that would welcome the chance to participate, and who have influence outside football).

    Then it would come down to a battle of influence, with Russia bullying and bribing countries to participate in the World Cup, and the “Allies” bullying and bribing countries not to. It would be a useful proxy for military confrontation in determining where the strength of influence lies in 2018.

  35. As for Russia and the Salisbury poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, of course it was the Ruskies. Anyone that bothered/upset should give any money they’ve received from Putin’s mates back…do I see a queue forming? Thought not!

  36. @ HIRETON – In p6 of the recommendations:
    “We note that WTO rules prevent the UK from unilaterally creating an open border with Ireland without offering this to the entire membership of the WTO”

    From what I understand UK could ask for a time limited exemption due to the unique circumstances but this is the route by which the Dyson-ites can achieve a UFT WTO outcome.

    From an EU side it wouldn’t be quite as good as BINO but it would certainly rank higher than Canada+.

    Being so reliant on food imports and having done such little preparation for a reciprocal WTO outcome I do fear we end up with a UFT WTO outcome. I think that represents a small % of MPs (not even all ERG would want that) but we could end up their by default once we pass Mar’19 and enter transition. The limited polling we’ve had tends to suggest a reciprocal WTO arrangement – which people seem OK with but that does requires a customs border.

  37. Pete,

    In a conversation which is around evidence of complicity and acting without sufficient proof, it seems a bit odd to start banning any UK citizen born in Russia from making donations to political parties.

    I can see the political mileage in battering the Tories with this stick, but I am interested in what people think the rules should be?

    1) Donations to political parties can only be made by UK-born British citizens.

    2) A list of foreign countries is compiled and any foreign-born UK citizen from one of those countries is banned from donating.

    3) Every donation from a foreign-born UK citizen has to be screened by an independent integrity committee to establish whether that person has corrupt links.

    4) Donations from foreign-born UK citizens are permitted, but there is a civil process by which a court can order that it is returned if it is proved on the balance of probabilities that the donor is corrupt.

    5) All donations are screened, or are subject to a civil process by which a court can order that they are returned if it is proved on the balance of probabilities that a donor is corrupt.

    And, where on this scale would the donations from Lubov Chernukhin fit in?

  38. @Neil A

    Describing the country as being attacked by chemical weapons is a touch of hyperbole dont you think?

    Simon Jenkins writes about this very subject in todays Guardian

    “Russia’s method of settling its internal feuds is obscene and archaic. The BBC’s vivid profile of Vladimir Putin this week depicted a paranoid, money-obsessed bully who, in an international context, needed handling with firmness and clarity. But even if the Skripal poisoning was “state sponsored”, it was clearly a specific act against an individual, like the Litvinenko killing. Why elevate it, as May did this week, to the “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK”?

    Parliament parroted the same nonsense. The Tories’ Tom Tugendhat said the poisoning “if not an act of war, was certainly a warlike act”. Labour’s Chris Leslie and John Woodcock worked themselves into a lather over “our country under attack” and “the gravity of the threat Russia poses to this nation”. In these bidding wars of exaggeration, words lose all meaning. Attacking people with poison is detestable. So are Russia’s infantile cyber-attacks and crude fake news trolls. They are unfriendly acts, but they are not war. Why be driven by some fiendish yearning for them to be so? ”

    I find Simon Jenkins often has a sensible perspective on events

  39. NEIL A, I really couldn’t give a stuff about that.
    All political parties should be funded by tax payers to stop corruption.

  40. @Kentdalian

    Other opinions of Simon Jenkins are available. I see him as a perpetual Eeyore and borderllne apologist, although I accept he is also an intelligent and analytical man.

    If the UK sent chemical weapons or nuclear contaminants to Russia to kill someone, and a Simione Jenkinskov wrote similar words in a Russian newspaper, I expect he wouldn’t make it to the end of the year.


    Ah, yes. Banning all donations altogether is another approach. I am agnostic myself, I know there are those who are vehemently opposed to this (not least at the idea of giving state money to right-wing groups) but I can see the attraction.

    However, your attack related to Russians and the Tories. You could have easily just attacked the system of political donations in its entirety.

  41. @Neil A

    “In a conversation which is around evidence of complicity and acting without sufficient proof, it seems a bit odd to start banning any UK citizen born in Russia from making donations to political parties.”



    Did he even suggest such a ban? No, but you don’t have to accept the money, is the rather obvious point.

  42. @Carfrew

    Where is the evidence that the donations were corrupt? Other than that all donations are corrupt which seems to be Pete’s real point.

    What would be the basis for accepting donations or not accepting donations? If you have a policy of not accepting donations from people born in Russia, is that not a “ban”? How should that policy be formulated? Are there “good Russians” and “bad Russians”? If so, who decides?

    I don’t think it’s all that obvious really. Simplistic, yes, obvious, no.

  43. @Neil A

    While we’re on the subject, do you think Corbyn is right to say we should be going after the money laundering aspect?

  44. Yes I do. I think Labour’s attempts to get the government to accept some Magnitsky-like amendments were laudable. Having said that, the government are moving in the right direction with Unexplained Wealth Orders etc.

    My view has always been that we need to insist that any wealth accrued in the UK (or brought here) comes with accountability. Any wealth that can’t be accounted for should be forfeited, and that counts as much for Family Trusts in the Isle of Man as it does for Russian Gazillions.

  45. @Neil A

    Do the donations themselves have to be corrupt to be a problem? It’s another straw man.

    And regarding whether you should accept donations, you don’t need absolute proof do something dodgy to consider them unwise do you?

  46. TREVOR W

    Trevor, thee and me have been round the issue of the NI / Ire border a few times. The links I show below have been shown before, so pardon me, please, if you have seen it all before. Option B for the border as stated in the Joint Report is impractical. I don’t agree with Oldnat that there will be a trial period as a political fudge. The solution is purely political.

    See page 23 onwards in John Temple lang’s very useful paper.

  47. Simon Jenkins is a natural contrarian who is of that breed of opinion columnists that assumes because he has some knowledge of some issues his opinion on everything is worth reading.

    He has, deservedly, acquired a very low opinion amongst scientists as he consistently write absolute drivel about science even though he is invariably and immediately debunked every time he does it.

  48. @Neil A

    Do you think that accepting some of these donations could be a factor in not rushing to implement the anti-laundering thing?

  49. IN a similar vein (but significantly further down the intellectual food chain), Craig Murray waded into the ‘debate’ by making some statements about the science of this case that were clearly and demonstrably absolute claptrap.

    I see he is now trying to rationalise his stupid apologism post-hoc. He does not warrant attention.


    “even if the Skripal poisoning was “state sponsored”, it was clearly a specific act against an individual, like the Litvinenko killing.”

    Jenkins is badly wrong about this one. If, as is being reported, the nerve agent was administered by hiding it in luggage at Moscow airport, then this displays a wanton disregard for the safety of the wider civilian population of the UK. The poison could easily have been released in an airport or other public place, and we could be dealing with a far greater number of casulaties, it would seem to be luck alone that has meant that isn’t the case. The Litvinenko killing displayed a similar lack of concern for the safety of uninvolved civilians. If a state is intent on assassinating someone there are no doubt a number of ways it could do so without putting innocent people in danger.

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