Nicola Sturgeon defends Jeremy Corbyn over foreign policy criticism

Written by Nicholas Mairs, Josh May on 29 May 2017 in News

First Minister said it was important to have "honest debates" around approaches to combating terror

Nicola Sturgeon - image credit: David Anderson

Nicola Sturgeon has defended Jeremy Corbyn after the Labour leader faced criticism for suggesting that Britain’s foreign policy was linked to last week’s Manchester attack.

The First Minister said it was important to have "honest debates" around approaches to combating terror, and further backed Corbyn’s assessment that cuts to police could have an impact.

The Labour leader used his first major speech following suspension of general election campaigning to call for an approach that “fights rather than fuels terrorism”, while criticising the ‘war on terror’.


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Corbyn added that his view “in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children”, but said that an “informed understanding of the causes of terrorism” is necessary to prevent further violence.

The comments were met with an outraged Tory response, with Theresa May accusing the Labour leader of providing an “excuse for terrorism”, while Boris Johnson dubbed the speech “monstrous”.

Sturgeon criticised the Conservatives reaction, adding that "no right-thinking person" would place any blame for the atrocity on the UK.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, she said: “I think there are issues about foreign policy and the implications for radicalisation here, but where I would disagree with anybody, and where I think it is slightly unfair, is to say that he was somehow saying that that meant – I heard Theresa May saying that what Jeremy Corbyn was saying was that ‘we only have ourselves to blame about what happened in Manchester’.

“I don’t think that’s what he was saying, I don’t think it’s what any right-thinking person would say but we must have the ability to have honest debates about foreign policy and security here, and that would include the reduction to police cover we’ve seen in England,” she added.

“If we want to keep the population safe as we all do then we must be able to have that.”

The Prime Minister's attack on Corbyn at Friday's G7 was branded "shameful" by Labour’s Richard Burgon, who added that “she knows he didn’t say that".

"She’s a very intelligent person. Whether she agrees with him or not on his politics, she knows he didn’t say that in his speech – which was widely accepted even by his opponents,” he told the BBC's Sunday Politics.

The Shadow Justice Secretary added: “What troubles me is that we’ve got a Prime Minister who must have sat down with her advisers earlier that day and said ‘well, I know he didn’t say that but if we say he did then, guess what, we might win some votes’. I think that’s shameful. I think that shows that Theresa May can’t be trusted.”

Michael Fallon defended his colleagues’ remarks however, insisting that Corbyn’s linking of the two factors was “nonsense.”

The Defence Secretary on the other hand backed comments made by Boris Johnson that the Iraq War “sharpened the resentments” of terrorists, in an article he wrote following the 2005 London bombings.

When pressed on the foreign secretary’s comments compared to Corbyn's, Mr Fallon said: “There is one important point here: he said it gave them a fabricated pretext… He says pretext. Now, the different with Jeremy Corbyn is Jeremy Corbyn is saying that can give them a justification.

“These people, by the way, are not attacking our foreign policy; they’re attacking our home policy, our way of life. They want to blow innocent civilians up.”

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