After spending the weekend in Salisbury, I was back in the House of Commons this afternoon where I was next to the Prime Minister as she delivered a statement on the attack on Sergei Skripal. I was very pleased with her strong condemnation of the incident. Tough action will now be forthcoming against the perpetrators of this vile act of aggression against my constituents.
It is intolerable for banned nerve agents to be used on British soil against a local resident who has been living peacefully in Salisbury for a number of years. Even worse, this attack endangered a larger number of innocent people than just the main target, including emergency service personnel at the scene of the incident at the Maltings and also at the property where Mr Skripal lived.
Over the weekend, I spent time in the city centre listening to local residents and businesses, and speaking with media outlets. I was struck by the resilience on display, and immensely proud that it was very much ‘business as usual’ despite the unusual circumstances.
On Sunday, I was initially somewhat taken aback by the need for a second statement from Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies. Almost a week after the incident, I was surprised that visitors to Zizzi and The Mill were now being advised to wash their clothes and possessions to avoid contamination.
But after speaking with Dame Sally yesterday evening, I was completely reassured that this second statement, following the advice of low public risk last Wednesday, was issued as a precaution and the risk remains low. The authorities are taking the investigation very seriously and responding accordingly as the inquiry progresses. The aim with the latest guidance is not to cause alarm but to make sure the public are up to date with the best advice as new information has emerged.
I know that it is disconcerting to see people dressed in hazmat suits and respirators at a number of locations across the city. But I would encourage everyone in Salisbury and those thinking of visiting our beautiful city that there is a low risk. I am assured that the main sites of interest in Christie Miller Road, the Maltings, Zizzi, The Mill, and the cemetery on London Road have all been secured.
We now await the response from the Russian ambassador to the Prime Minister’s statement, and the British government will consider its position on Wednesday. I can assure the people of Salisbury that we will make it crystal clear there will be consequences for those who attempt to murder innocent people on British soil.