Salisbury Incident

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:22 pm on 12th September 2018.

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Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland 3:22 pm, 12th September 2018

I start by thanking all those involved in the investigation surrounding the Salisbury incident, including the 250 detectives and the thousands of police and security officers. They have played a vital role in protecting and enhancing our nation’s security, and for that we owe them our deepest gratitude. We should never forget their unfaltering determination to comb through 11,000 hours of CCTV footage and record over 1,400 statements, for it is such efforts that save lives.

We should also give thanks for the role the NHS played in saving the lives of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and its efforts to assist Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess. I also commend the Government for their proactive approach in obtaining a European arrest warrant and issuing an Interpol red notice for the suspects. I also commend my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for her excellent statement last week in the House. The tone and information were perfect and just what was required.

This was an attack that ultimately left one person dead and others fighting for their lives. Such barbaric acts have no place on the streets of this country, especially not at the hands of a foreign Government. I fully endorse the Prime Minister’s comment that if the men who carried out this attack ever step out of Russia we should use every means available to bring them to justice. Her response has been swift and proportionate, unlike that of the Leader of the Opposition, who demonstrated at worst a lack of patriotism and at best a stunning naivety in showing such openness to the Russian version of events.

We must remind everyone—ourselves and the international community—that this is not the expression of some dislike for the Russian people, but rather a full condemnation of the actions of the Russian Government. I have personally been appalled by the levels of immaturity displayed by the Russian embassy in London. The attempted murder of two innocent people is never a laughing matter, but based on their satirical and sarcastic social media posts, it is clear that the Russian embassy staff think it is. Whether you are the accused or not, this is disgraceful behaviour, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

I also commend the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our international partners for the largest ever collective expulsion of Russian diplomats and intelligence officers. More than 150 have now gone. Now, more than ever, we should be tightening and reaffirming our international partnerships in the face of such adversity. Let us also use this important moment to highlight the need to safeguard nuclear materials and protect our energy security. In this regard, the passage of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 is a turning point.

Since invading Ukraine in 2014, Russia has launched a campaign of cyber-espionage and disruption, notably hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence and the Bundestag. I commend work in my own constituency on the cyber-security apprenticeship scheme, based at Energus, which is exactly what we need to do more of. Such apprenticeships are enjoyed by the employees and benefit our national security. The Government are also building on the considerable technical expertise in GCHQ—our world-leading cyber-specialists—and have invested £1.9 billion in cyber up to 2021.

Salisbury and the surrounding area now have an opportunity to recover and look towards a brighter future, and I echo the comments of my hon. Friend James Gray. Salisbury is a place steeped in history and set in a picturesque rural landscape, the home of Stonehenge and an original copy of the Magna Carta—[Interruption.]—and I know that my hon. Friend John Glen is serving his community well at this important time. I wish the people of Wiltshire the best as they endeavour to recover from this year’s events, and I commend the Security Minister for his speech to the House today.