Jeremy Corbyn was isolated not just by the rest of the House of Commons but also by his own party this afternoon. The Labour leader was the only MP who refused to condemn the culpability of Russia and call for a robust response.
Even his normal allies didn’t manage to support his line: Chris Williamson, who had come into the Chamber with a copy of the Morning Star, bobbed to get the Speaker’s attention for a good while but ended up asking about police cuts.
Those from other parties laid into the Labour leader, with the DUP’s Sammy Wilson accusing him of ‘appeasement’ and Iain Duncan Smith repeating his assertion on Monday that Corbyn had failed to rise to the occasion. The SNP, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru all offered their full support and made clear that they disagreed with Corbyn.
But his own MPs were far subtler. They had decided not to go head to head with Corbyn but instead to strike a very obviously different tone. Yvette Cooper was the first Labour backbencher to speak, welcoming the Prime Minister’s statement, and MP after MP rose to pointedly back what she had called for. The most pointed contribution came from Pat McFadden, who argued that making a robust response was part of political leadership and that his party did have a tradition of recognising this.
None of them named their leader, but made clear that they disagreed with him merely by stating their support for May’s course of action. I suspect that this will lead a lot of them to consider how on earth they could feasibly campaign for Corbyn as Prime Minister at an election after this.