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May warns Russia UK 'will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens'

The Independent logo The Independent 17/03/2018 Joe Watts

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(Provided by ITN News)

Theresa May has used her party conference speech to warn Russia that the UK “will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens”, as the crisis around the Salisbury nerve attack deepens.

The Prime Minister said Moscow was in “flagrant breach” of international law over the incident which saw a Russian-made nerve agent release in the city.

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum in central London, Britain March 17, 2018.  REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool © Reuters Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum in central London, Britain March 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool

She said: “Many Russians have made this country their home. And those who abide by our laws and make a contribution to our society will always be welcome.

“But we will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government.”

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum in central London, Britain March 17, 2018.  REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool © Reuters Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, speaks at the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum in central London, Britain March 17, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool But it comes after the Kremlin announced it would retaliate to Britain’s expulsion of 23 diplomats earlier this week, by also expelling the same number of U.K. officials from Moscow.

Saying that she had anticipated the move, the Prime Minister went on: “The rule of law. Freedom of speech. The toleration of dissenting and minority views. A free press. Fair and democratic elections. A thriving civil society. These are the foundation stones of human freedom.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA  MARCH 16, 2018: A sign at the British Embassy. British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the UK is to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images) © Getty MOSCOW, RUSSIA MARCH 16, 2018: A sign at the British Embassy. British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the UK is to expel 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images) “They don’t come about by accident, and they are certainly not the default setting for any society.

“They take years of patient work to build up, they face constant threats, and they must always be defended. They are the values which unite us as a country.”

The overt defence of national values comes after a week in which Ms May criticised Jeremy Corbyn for failing to blame Russia for the attack, something which also divided the Labour frontbench.

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