Westminster today LIVE: Theresa May to make statement on Russia as deadline passes on Kremlin response


Theresa May is set to outline plans for an ‘economic war’ with Russia after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city. 

After Russia failed to comply with the British government’s midnight demand for an explanation of the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, Ms May is expected to make a statement on the issue following Prime Minister’s Questions at noon.

It is understood the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals.

Live Updates

19 mins ago
20 mins ago

This is from The Independent’s Political Commentator John Rentoul, who is currently outside Parliament. Protestors have brought traffic to a standstill in the area.

51 mins ago
1 hour ago

Taxes need to go up by £40bn a year to balance the books, IFS says

Tax hikes of around £40bn a year will be needed to balance the books by mid 2020s, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said.
The respected thinktank poured scorn on Philip Hammond’s optimism in its analysis of his first Spring Statement, where it declared the need for tax rises of £30bn each year to retain public spending and balance the budget by the middle of the next decade – which the Tories had promised to do.

1 hour ago
1 hour ago

More from the IFS briefing here:

1 hour ago

EU expresses ‘solidarity’ with Britain after use of nerve agent in Salisbury

The European Union has expressed its “solidarity” with the British people and government after the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter on British soil, apparently using a Russian-made nerve agent.
Speaking in the European Parliament Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said European countries and their leaders had a “collective responsibility” to help their ally.

1 hour ago

My colleague Lizzy Buchan is at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) briefing on the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, delivered in the Commons on Tuesday. 

1 hour ago

Corbyn understands foreign policy – he proved it yesterday with Russia and he’s proven it in the past

Iain Duncan Smith said Corbyn shouldn’t “Play politics” over the poisoning by talking about Russia-linked donations to our governing party. The Tory backbenches roared “shame” and “disgrace”. Chris Leslie MP, prominent member of the dwindling New Labour “Resistance” to Corbyn declared it is “just not appropriate” to push “party political differences” when “our country is potentially under attack” in response to the Labour leader’s comments in the Commons last night.

1 hour ago

Kremlin threatens to expel all UK media if Britain shuts down Russian broadcaster

Russia says that “not a single British media outlet” will be able to work in the country if the UK shuts down Russia Today.
Its foreign ministry made the threat amid suggestions from British regulator Ofcom that it could not renew the license of the state-funded TV channel.
Ofcom’s announcement came amid increasing tensions between the UK and Russia following the poisoning of a spy on British soil with a nerve agent.

2 hours ago

After her statement today, the Prime Minister will host discussions at Downing Street with both Nicola Sturgeon and the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.

The talks are the latest bid to end the dispute which has developed with the devolved governments over the UK Government’s flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.

The legislation, which transposes EU law into UK law following Brexit, has been branded a “power grab” by the first ministers of both Scotland and Wales.

While a lack of agreement from Edinburgh and Cardiff would not prevent the key legislation from passing, forcing the Bill through without their consent could spark a constitutional crisis within the UK.

2 hours ago

MPs urged to back UK’s first ‘shooting galleries’ for drug users

MPs will be urged to consider bringing in “shooting galleries” to allow vulnerable addicts to legally inject drugs such as heroin without facing prosecution.
The SNP’s Alison Thewliss wants to pave the way for the UK’s first supervised drug consumption rooms, where trained staff can watch over heroin users to prevent fatal overdoses and curb the spread of HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated needles.

2 hours ago
2 hours ago

On the death Stephen Hawking – announced earlier this morning – political figures have been tweeting about his legacy. Here are two from Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May.

2 hours ago

This is from Political Editor, Joe Watts, on what is expected from Theresa May’s statement later this afternoon. 

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “economic war” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city.

The Independent understands the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals.

Ms May is also understood to be considering expelling diplomats and pushing for joint international action with allies.

The Prime Minister is set to meet her National Security Council on Wednesday to finalise her approach which is then likely be announced to the House of Commons in the afternoon.

Action came a step closer after the Russian Foreign Minister said his country would not cooperate with the British investigation into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March.

But Britain’s allies gave early support to Ms May’s push, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for unified action and US President Donald Trump saying there must be “consequences” for those responsible.

It came during another dramatic day on which:

On Monday Ms May delivered an ultimatum to Russia, that it would have to explain how Novichok, a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury.

A Government minister told The Independent: “What happens will be an economic war, these will be economic measures.

“Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK, a lot of it concentrated in a few people’s hands. Well, we’ll do our bit to make it smaller if they want to carry on like this.

“That doesn’t give us any pleasure at all, but we need the nations of Europe to behave within the rule of law and not like gangsters. The message has to economic, political and diplomatic.”

3 hours ago

Russia says it won’t respond to UK deadline unless it is given nerve agent samples

Russia will not respond to Theresa May’s midnight ultimatum over the poisoning of a former spy in Salisbury, the Russian foreign ministry has said, unless it is given samples of the nerve agent used in the attack.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said British threats to punish Moscow over the poisoning would not go unanswered, and described the allegations of Russian involvement as a provocation.

3 hours ago
3 hours ago

Religious leaders to be trained in ‘British values’ as part of new government strategy

Faith leaders will be asked to help promote “British values” and laws on religious marriages could be reformed as part of a new government strategy to boost integration within the UK’s communities.
Ministers said the £50m Integrated Communities Strategy will focus on helping people learn English, encouraging more women to find work and promoting “meaningful discussion” between young people. Sajid Javid, the Housing and Communities Secretary, said immigrants to the UK will also be given “practical information” to help them adapt to British culture.

3 hours ago

Theresa May plans for ‘economic war’ with Vladimir Putin and his allies

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “economic war” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city.
The Independent understands the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals.

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