“We’re all familiar that Boris has a looser use of language, this is not the first time this has happened” said Malcolm Rifkind on last nights Newsnight. The fact that a predecessor of Boris believes this is acceptable behaviour, questions if the Tory Party can any longer be described as a conservative Political Party. The Newsnight piece also showed those watching a tweet that was published by the Foreign Office on the 22nd March and then removed on 4th April. The tweet read “Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was military grade Novichok nerve agent produced in Russia. Porton Down is OPCW – accredited and designated laboratory” The quotation marks were included in the tweet, although the bold text was not!
It was disappointing that the only reference to the tweet during the interview by Emily Maitlis was made as part of a longer list of issues, and Malcolm Rifkind understandably chose not to address this. The fact is the implication of the words spoken voluntarily by Boris Johnson and the explicit three words in the tweet that I highlighted which were written by his department as part of a quote have now been dismissed as though the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary are mere distractions to the running of the nation. Yet when Jeremy Corbyn took a much more cautious and arguably conservative approach to the source of the attempted murder of the two Russians, even though he was denied access to the same intelligence that Theresa May has shared with the whole of the EU and with the USA, he was criticised by the Prime Minister on 26th March. Mrs May stated:
I can find no reason to attribute to Jeremy Corbyn for the stance that he has previously taken on this issue. I hope that, like some of his right hon. and hon. Friends, he will take a different position in this debate.
It seems vital that our Tory Government begins to act in a manner that is coherent and credible, over a matter of national security, ensuring that the whole of the British Parliament including the leader of the largest political party in the Western World is kept informed, rather than treated in such a critical fashion. Then perhaps they can also address the critical matters that Johnson and his loose language have disclosed such as this case and the bigger picture issues such as the leaving of the EU.