Salisbury Incident

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 12th September 2018.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 4:35 pm, 12th September 2018

That is taken out of context. The idea that I as shadow Home Secretary can have my commitment to British democracy and to this country impugned is, I am afraid, wrong. My parents came from an island. When the second world war was called, they heard the call and came willingly—they were not conscripts—to defend their mother country. They would not understand why Government Members assume, for reasons I can only speculate on, that somehow my commitment to British democracy and the rule of law can be challenged.

In drawing my remarks to a close, it is indeed true, as Government Members may wish to remind me, that I voted against certain counter-terrorism measures, particularly ID cards and 42-day detention without trial. But I did that walking through the same Lobby as many Conservative MPs. I was proud to have done that because I did not believe at the time that those measures made us safe.

We are a parliamentary democracy—we are not Russia—and in a parliamentary democracy the role of the legislature, including Opposition politicians, is to ask questions. For Government Members to suggest that because we ask questions we are somehow complicit with terrorism is really quite wrong.

We on this side of the House are clear that all the evidence we have to date points to Russia, and we are clear that it was authorised at the highest level. We support the Government in the action they have taken, but we will not take aspersions cast on politicians or persons on the left about their patriotism and willingness to defend their country.

The events in Salisbury were horrifying. It is only by perhaps luck that more people were not killed or made extremely ill. We congratulate the police, the security services, the NHS, the ambulance service and all the other people who came together after this terrible event. But there can be no question but that we on this side of the House are as committed to British security as any other Member. I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak in this debate.