As events have unfolded in the Salisbury nerve agent attack incident Jeremy Corbyn’s calm and measured approach of asking to see evidence before action against Russia was taken appears to have been vindicated. He has further enhanced his already strong credentials as a Prime Minister in waiting.

Conversely, the hapless Theresa May and her gaffe-prone Foreign Secretary appear to be out of their depth with their knee jerk reaction to the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

If it was the Government’s intention to weaponise the attack and use it as means of undermining Jeremy Corbyn in the lead-up to the council elections on the May 3, it has made the Government look extremely foolish.

The main problem appears to be that what Boris Johnson says appears to be untrue regarding the nerve agent novichok originating in Russia.

When he was asked on German television why the Government believed that Russia was the source of the nerve agent, Mr Johnson said that the people in Porton Down told him. He asked them “if they were sure” and he reportedly said that they were “categorical”.

This is inconsistent with the Head of the Porton Down, who refused to back Mr Johnson’s emphatic assertion that the nerve agent originated from Russia.

Apparently, the UK government does not even believe what it says in its own words when it subsequently removed a Tweet from the Foreign Office’s Twitter page stating: “Analysis by world leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military-grade Novichok nerve agent produced in Russia. Porton Down is CPCW accredited and designated laboratory”.

We have been here before when Tony Blair’s government told the UK public back in 2003 that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could reach the UK in 45 minutes.

On the basis of this ‘untruth’ the UK went to war with Iraq and started a chain of events that led to the death of thousands of innocent civilians.

What is particularly galling is that back in 2003, Boris Johnson ‘called out’ Tony Blair for his “dishonest means of persuasion” when going to war with Iraq and yet when Mr Johnson stands accused of doing the same thing of apparently exaggerating Russia’s involvement in this nerve agent attack. Different standards of conduct appear to apply to Mr Johnson, than they do to Tony Blair.

Institutions that the British public once cherished, such as Parliament, the church, the police and the BBC have eroded their own authority in recent years through their errant deeds.

There is currently no hiding place for the UK Establishment from public scrutiny as social media has had a liberating effect of allowing people to express differing views that are not articulated by the mainstream media, who have a vested interest in maintaining the political status quo.

Potentially, this affair may have calamitous effects on the UK’s relationships with other countries who have been drawn in to the UK’s ‘tit for tat’ race to the bottom of expelling Russian diplomats, if it subsequently transpires that this was all done on the basis of an untruth.

Despite all the puerile name calling and personal abuse Jeremy Corbyn has received from factional sections of the press, the Tories and some members of his own party, he has risen above it with great dignity and not allowed it to divert him from his task of securing Labour victories in council elections throughout the country in May. That is the sign of a true leader.

Ian Kirkham

The Queens Drive, Chorleywood