A TORY MP has called for “much tougher” action to be taken in response to Russia over a nerve agent attack on a former double agent.

Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, said any decision not to send “a lot of dignitaries” to the World Cup, due to take place this summer in Russia, was a “pathetic response” to the attack in Salisbury on March 4.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate, Sir Nicholas, MP for Mid Sussex, was asked by the DUP’s Jim Shannon if withdrawing from the World Cup and having it in England would be an impressive way of putting pressure on Russia to change.

In his response, Sir Nicholas said: “I don’t think that it’s nearly serious enough for the kind of steps that I believe this Government will need to take against Russia.

“I think just to say that you’re not going to send a lot of dignitaries to the World Cup is nowhere near good enough, it’s a pathetic response.

“We will need to do much, much better and be much, much tougher than that so that they understand across the full spectrum that this is the kind of behaviour up with which we will not put.”

The veteran MP also joked that he used to say: “The Treasury do work for the Russians [in] the way that they have undermined successfully our military effort.”

Sir Nicholas also branded Brexit a “very poor” decision, suggesting there is a convincing case for Britain to retain and make improvements to its active diplomacy.

He argued that Britain is at a crossroads, that the UK’s global influence is already under pressure and that the country is not a superpower but a middle-ranking one, with less influence than is sometimes suggested.

He said it is “inevitable that our influence - already, sadly but quite clearly, on the wane - will inevitably further decrease as the realities of the folly of our exit from the EU become clear”.