On 6 November, Boris Johnson made reference to the Salisbury attack in a Downing Street speech when he said: “Come with us, a government that believes Britain should stand tall in the world. Or go with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party who sided with Putin when Russia ordered poisonings on the streets of Salisbury.”
Corbyn did not side with Russia over the Salisbury attack. On 15 March 2018, he said: “Either this was a crime authored by the Russian state; or that state has allowed these deadly toxins to slip out of the control it has an obligation to exercise. If the latter, a connection to Russian mafia-like groups that have been allowed to gain a toehold in Britain cannot be excluded.” He added: “The Russian authorities must be held to account on the basis of the evidence, and our response must be both decisive and proportionate.”
The prime minister’s claim that Jeremy Corbyn took the side of Moscow over the Novichok attack was a lie. Extraordinarily, Johnson’s accusation came amid a controversy surrounding the government’s refusal to release a document on Russian influence in British politics, which has led Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deny that Downing Street has been infiltrated by a “Kremlin mole.” Since becoming prime minister, Johnson has initiated no new sanctions against Russia over the Salisbury attack or any other issue. The Conservative party has reportedly accepted around £3.5 million from Russian sources since 2010, including £500,000 in the last year.