Britain will expel 23 Russian spies as part of its “full and robust response” to the “barbaric” poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Theresa May announced.
The Prime Minister said Russia was guilty of “an unlawful use of force” against the UK and it was time to “send a clear message” to Vladimir Putin.
She said: “Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way.
“But we will not tolerate the threat to life of British people and others on British soil from the Russian Government. Nor will we tolerate such a flagrant breach of Russia’s international obligations.”
After a meeting of the National Security Council, which includes the heads of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the Armed Forces, Mrs May announced the most wide-ranging sanctions against Russia since the Cold War.
Russian spies sent home
Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”, Mrs May announced. They have one week to leave.
Mrs May said: “Through these expulsions we will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capability in the UK for years to come. And if they seek to rebuild it, we will prevent them from doing so.”
It is the single biggest expulsion since 31 Russians were deported in 1985 in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row following the exposure of double agent Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB’s bureau chief in London.
Mrs May said it “reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian State has acted against our country”.
Only four suspected spies were expelled following the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
The mass expulsion will account for almost half the 48 diplomats registered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by the Russian Embassy.
They are likely to include Colonel Michail Ivanov, the military attache, and six assistant military attaches, including two colonels, a Lt Col, a naval captain and a naval commander.
The Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, will not be expelled, as Mrs May said “it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation”.
Will cyber attacks be next?
Mrs May made it clear that she is willing to deploy Britain’s military and intelligence capabilities to take secret action against Russia, leading to speculation that it could include targeted cyber attacks.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “We will deploy a range of tools from across the full breadth of our National Security apparatus in order to counter the threats of hostile state activity.
“While I have set out some of those measures today, Members on all sides will understand that there are some that cannot be shared publicly for reasons of National Security.”
A senior Government official said: “Although we have announced this response, further options remain on the table: economic, diplomatic, legislative, and our security capabilities can all be brought to bear.”
'Magnitsky law' to stop hostile Russians entering UK
Mrs May will extend powers currently used to stop terrorists at the border to include anyone suspected of “hostile state activity” or human rights abuses in order to keep agents of Vladimir Putin’s regime out of the country.
On Monday the Government will table an amendment to the forthcoming Sanctions Bill which will effectively mirror America’s so-called Magnitsky Act.
The Magnitsky Act: Everything you need to know
Named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax accountant killed in a Moscow prison in 2009, it prohibits Russians and others suspected of human rights abuses from entering the country or using the banking system.
It is designed to hit wealthy allies of Vladimir Putin and put pressure on his regime by turning oligarchs into international pariahs who cannot travel or invest outside Russia.
Asset seizures for corrupt billionaires already in the UK
Britain will step up its seizure of corrupt money and possessions from Russian criminals who have previously treated the UK as a safe haven for their assets.
Greater use will be made of unexplained wealth orders - part of the Criminal Finances Act - which allow the Government to seize cash and assets that suspected criminals cannot account for.
Vince Cable, the LibDem leader, urged Mrs May to take action against Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, who he said owns a £12 million flat overlooking the Ministry of Defence.
Russian state assets will also be frozen wherever there is evidence that they may be used “to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents”.
Mrs May said: “To those who seek to do us harm, my message is simple: you are not welcome here.”
Suspension of high-level diplomatic relations
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, will no longer speak to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after Mrs May suspended all “high level bilateral contact” between Russia and the UK.
Mrs May said that until now, Britain’s approach to Russia had been “engage but beware”, but “in the aftermath of this appalling act against our country, this relationship cannot be the same”.
Mr Johnson visited Moscow last year but the invitation he gave Mr Lavrov for a reciprocal visit to the UK has now been revoked.
Mrs May will no longer engage with President Putin, presenting logistical problems for the G20 meeting in Argentina in November.
The Prime Minister also confirmed for the first time that no Government ministers or members of the Royal family will travel to the World Cup in Russia this summer.
It means The Duke of Cambridge, who is President of the Football Association, will boycott the tournament even though the FA still intends to send the England team to compete.
Building an international coalition of support for tough sanctions against Russia is a crucial part of Mrs May’s response to the Salisbury attack.
Mrs May has spoken to President Donald Trump, the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel who have all agreed to support the UK in “co-ordinating our efforts to stand up for the rules based international order which Russia seeks to undermine”.
A sample of the Novichok nerve agent found in Salisbury is being sent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for independent analysis to strengthen the criminal case against Russia.
Senior Russian football official dismisses significance of England World Cup boycott
A senior Russian football official has reportedly told the Russian Interfax news agency that it is not that important that British officials will not attend the tournament, which is scheduled to get underway in June.
The official is quoted as saying of the boycott, it is "their problem".
Meanwhile, the RIA news agency reports that the head of the Russian Upper House of Parliament said Russia will react to Theresa May's statement in a fast, tough and reciprocal way.
Foreign Office tells England fans heading to Russia for World Cup not to mention politics
The Foreign Office has updated its advice to England football fans heading to Russia in June for the World Cup.
It advises against commenting on political developments.
Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time; you’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publically on political developments; while the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice."
Russian Foreign Ministry responds to UK revoking invite to Sergey Lavrov
Theresa May said in her statement that the UK would be suspending "all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation".
"This includes revoking the invitation to Foreign Minister (Sergey) Lavrov to pay a reciprocal visit to the United Kingdom," she said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has now responded and said Mr Lavrov had not accepted the invitation anyway.
Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman quote in full on Salisbury evidence
Mr Corbyn's spokesman refused to say that the Labour leader accepted the Russian state was at fault for the Salisbury attack.
He told reporters: "The government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don't.
"However, also there is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly.
"So, I think the right approach is to seek the evidence to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibitive chemical weapons."
The Labour leader has been given security briefings on the incident.
Asked if Mr Corbyn believed Russia was responsible for the attack, the spokesman said Mrs May continued to leave open the possibility that Russia lost control of the nerve agent.
Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman casts doubt on Government's Salisbury conclusions
Corbyn spokesman casts doubt on conclusion that Russian state attempted to murder the Skripals. “There is a history of WMDs and intelligence which is problematic”— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) March 14, 2018
Speaking in the Commons, Mrs May describes the apparent comparison between Salisbury and the events leading up to the Iraq War as "quite wrong and outrageous".
Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman: 'It's important to follow the evidence' on Salisbury incident
Mr Corbyn's spokesman is now briefing the press.
Asked why Corbyn did not explicitly condemn Russia, his spokesman says: "Clearly whoever carried out the attack is responsible for what was a completely heinous and reckless act."— Emily Ashton (@elashton) March 14, 2018
So JC doesn't believe Russia is responsible? "It's important to follow the evidence and to be guided by the evidence" says spox.— Emily Ashton (@elashton) March 14, 2018
The spokesman's comments have now been raised in the Commons where the Prime Minister is still speaking.
Mrs May says she is "surprised and shocked" that Mr Corbyn apparently will not accept the assessment made by UK security services that Russia is to blame for the attack in Salisbury.
Labour First Minister of Wales: Robust and proportionate response is right call
Fully support the @10DowningStreet statement and proposed actions today. Appalling acts like these cannot be tolerated. A robust and proportionate response is the right call— Carwyn Jones (@fmwales) March 14, 2018
Gavin Williamson welcomes Nato support
Nato issued a statement earlier today (see update at 12.20) calling on Russia to answer the UK's questions about the use of the Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.
Mr Williamson, the Defence Secretary, has now responded.
He said: "I strongly welcome Nato's statement of support following the disgraceful use of a military-grade nerve agent on UK soil.
"Nato is the foundation of UK and Euro-Atlantic defence and security. Our friends and allies stand with us in solidarity, proving this horrifying attack is a blatant breach of international rules and agreements."
Labour MPs back Theresa May's Salisbury response
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw takes another dig at Corbyn - tells the PM that "most of us" on the Labour benches support her tough action on Russia sanctions— Matt Dathan (@matt_dathan) March 14, 2018
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw takes aim at Corbyn: “Can I assure the prime minister that most of us on these benches support the measures” she announced today against Russia #skripal— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) March 14, 2018
Former Labour chair of the foreign affairs committee Mike Gapes: ‘the PM's words were appropriate, measured and correct and she has my full support.’— Ned Simons (@nedsimons) March 14, 2018
Only one person has disagreed with May’s statement so far: Jeremy Corbyn. None of his backbench allies have got a look in yet.— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) March 14, 2018
Labour MP Pat McFadden goes in even harder, suggests Corbyn is not fit to lead: "Responding with strength and resolve when your country is under threat is an essential component of political leadership. There is a Labour tradition that understands that."— Jack Blanchard (@Jack_Blanchard_) March 14, 2018
Nicola Sturgeon responds to Theresa May's Russia statement
Russia’s actions cannot be tolerated. Proportionate but firm response right. Support PM’s initial actions, though future legislation will require careful scrutiny. Key point - Russia cannot unlawfully kill/attempt to kill on our streets with impunity.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 14, 2018
Russian embassy: UK response 'totally unacceptable'
The Russian embassy in the UK has issued a statement in response to the Government's decision to expel 23 diplomats from Britain.
The statement said: "We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted.
"All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain."
Theresa May criticises Jeremy Corbyn over Russia response
Mrs May tells Mr Corbyn that "this is not a question of diplomacy... this is a question of the culpability of the Russian state".
She then responds to Mr Corbyn's call for a consensus to be found on the issue.
She says: "It is clear from the conversations I have had with allies that we have a consensus with our allies, it was clear from the remarks that were made by backbenchers across the whole of this House on Monday that there is a consensus across the backbenches of this House.
"I am only sorry that the consensus does not go as far as the Right Honourable Gentleman who could have taken the opportunity - as the UK Government has done - to condemn the culpability of the Russian state."
Jeremy Corbyn: Essential to maintain robust dialogue with Russia
The Labour leader asks Theresa May if she has sent the Kremlin a sample of the nerve agent, as it has requested.
He asks the Prime Minister "what conversations she has had if any with the Russian government" and says that it is "essential to maintain a robust dialogue with Russia".
He then bemoans cuts to the UK's diplomatic capacity which prompts jeers and shouts from MPs.
Very uncomfortable statement from Corbyn - repeats his call for robust dialogue with Russia - lots of barracking— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 14, 2018
Theresa May expelling 23 Russian diplomats from UK
Mrs May announces that the UK is expelling 23 Russian diplomats from the country and that they have one week to leave.
She says the UK will seek to "dismantle" the Russian Federation's spy network in the UK.
Meanwhile all planned meetings with Russia have been suspended.
The Prime Minister also announces that no ministers will attend the World Cup in Russia. The Royal family will also not be attending, she says.
Theresa May: The Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal
The Prime Minister is now delivering her statement on the Salisbury spy incident.
She says that "it was right to offer" Russia the chance to explain itself but that the Kremlin had shown "complete disdain for the gravity of these events".
She says Russia has provided "no credible explanation" about how it lost control of the Novichok nerve agent.
She says Russia's response was one of "sarcasm, contempt and defiance".
She says that the only conclusion is that the "Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder" of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Russian ambassador: UK response to Salisbury 'unacceptable'
Alexander Yakovenko has told Sky News the UK's response to the Salisbury incident is "unacceptable" and a "provocation".
Speaking after his meeting at the Foreign Office, he said: "I said everything what is done today by the British Government is absolutely unacceptable and we consider this a provocation."
He said the UK should "follow international law" and under the rules of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "they have to present a request to the organisation and then we are happy to consider this within 10 days".
The UK's actions were "nothing to do with the situation that we have in Salisbury, we believe this is very serious provocation".
Russian ambassador to UK summoned to Foreign Office
Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's ambassador to the UK, has been summoned to the Foreign Office to be updated on measures to be announced by Theresa May in her statement in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Mr Yakovenko was in a meeting with a senior Foreign Office official immediately before the PM's statement to the House of Commons.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was in the House to hear the PM's statement.
Donald Tusk: Spy poisoning to be discussed at European Council meeting
The meeting of the EU Council next week had already been billed as significant with the bloc due to discuss and sign off the terms of the Brexit transition period.
Now it also looks like the meeting will consider the Salisbury spy incident.
Emergency meeting of UN Security Council scheduled for Wednesday evening
The Foreign Office's call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has been granted.
The meeting on the Salisbury spy incident will take place at 7pm UK time.
Nato calls on Russia to 'address the UK's questions' on Salisbury incident
Away from PMQs: The UK briefed the North Atlantic Council today on the Salisbury incident and Nato has now put out a lengthy statement.
The key bit: Nato says Russia must "address the UK's questions" on what happened in the city in Wiltshire and provide "full and complete disclosure" about the Novichok nerve agent programme.
"Allies expressed deep concern at the first offensive use of a nerve agent on Alliance territory since NATO’s foundation.
"Allies expressed solidarity with the UK, offered their support in the conduct of the ongoing investigation, and called on Russia to address the UK’s questions including providing full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"Allies agreed that the attack was a clear breach of international norms and agreements."
Breaking - All 29 NATO countries 'called on Russia to address the UK’s questions' in joint statement on poisoning of ex-spy - @AFP— Danny Kemp (@dannyctkemp) March 14, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May to 'get a grip' on NHS funding
Mr Corbyn asks Mrs May if she is suggesting that "it is only she that knows best about the NHS" as he cites the concerns of doctors and nurses.
Mrs May says the Government "is putting more money into the health service" and that you need a strong economy to continue to do so as she suggests that a Labour government would put the UK economy at risk.
But Mr Corbyn hits back and says Mrs May needs to "get a grip" and provide sufficient funding for the NHS.
Mrs May says funding for the NHS is at "record levels".
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn pay tribute to Stephen Hawking before clashing over NHS
Both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May pay tribute to Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist, who has died at the age of 76.
They also both condemn the abuse of a number of Muslim MPs who have been sent suspicious packages and what Mr Corbyn describes as "vile messages" in recent days.
Mr Corbyn then asks the Prime Minister about the NHS. He asks why the UK cannot meet its A&E target of dealing with 95 per cent of cases within four hours.
Jeremy Corbyn leading again on the NHS. Says February was the worst month ever for A&E and leaders saying NHS is now unable to meet constitutional targets for the first time ever #PMQs— Jon Vale (@JonValePA) March 14, 2018
Mrs May says "we do have more doctors working in accident and emergency, we have put more money in" to ensure that departments can provide the treatment that people need.
Mr Corbyn says the A&E target will not be met until 2019 as he raises concerns expressed by NHS officials.
Corbyn now asking why yesterday’s spring statement didn’t include more money for the NHS. To be fair, it didn’t really include anything.— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) March 14, 2018
He says the NHS is "clearly in crisis" as he asks why no more money was made available for the health service at the spring statement yesterday.
Mrs May says the UK has already taken action to allocate extra funding for the NHS.
Theresa May: UK stands by Brexit commitments agreed in December
The Prime Minister is now on her feet in the House of Commons and she confirms that she will be delivering a statement on Salisbury immediately after PMQs.
Mrs May is asked by Tory MP Alex Burghart to confirm that the UK remains committed to the Brexit withdrawal deal it struck with the EU in December, particularly on the issue of the Northern Ireland border.
The Prime Minister insists Britain does "stand by all of the commitments we made in December".
Foreign Office calls for urgent meeting of UN Security Council over Salisbury incident
The UK has called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to update Council members on the investigation into the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. pic.twitter.com/jFQ2HA4JV0— Foreign Office ���� (@foreignoffice) March 14, 2018
Theresa May leaves Downing Street for PMQs
The Prime Minister is due in the House of Commons shortly for her weekly grilling by MPs at PMQs.
However, today's edition is likely to be overshadowed by what is expected to follow with Mrs May due to deliver a statement immediately afterwards on the latest on the Salisbury spy incident.
The PM is widely expected to outline retaliatory measures against Russia after the Kremlin failed to meet Mrs May's deadline last night of explaining how a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury.