THE poisoning of a former Russian spy was carried out in the “most cruel and public way”, the Home Secretary said today.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Amber Rudd said the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia was a “brazen and reckless act”.

Ms Rudd confirmed that the pair “remain unconscious and in a critical condition but [are] stable” at Salisbury District Hospital.

Speaking to MPs, she said: “The latest update from the hospital is that the officer remains in a serious but stable condition and is conscious and talking.

“I can confirm that it is highly likely that the police officer has been exposed to the same nerve agent.”

Ms Rudd added that the officer “acted selflessly to help others”.

Met Police chief Mark Rowley confirmed yesterday that Sergei and Yulia were “specifically targeted” by a nerve agent.

Ms Rudd said: “The use of a nerve agent on UK soil is a brazen and reckless act. This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way. "People are right to want to know who to hold to account but if we are to be rigorous in this investigation we must avoid speculation and the allow the police to carry on their investigation.”

Speaking on the speculation, Conservative member Sir Edward Leigh said that the "circumstantial evidence against Russia is very strong," and asked: "Who else would have the means?”

Sir Edward added: “This is a brazen act of war, humiliating our country.”

In reply, Ms Rudd said: “There will come a time for attribution but now I am concerned about the incident and consequences around that."

She added: “We remain in the midst of a fast-paced criminal investigation. We must give the police the space they need to conduct the investigation.

“We are committed to doing all we can to bring the perpetrator to justice, whoever they are and wherever they maybe.

"The investigation is moving at pace and this government will act without hesitation as the facts become clearer.”