MI6 has seen a surge in new recruits since the Salisbury nerve agent attack

The foreign spy service saw a blaze of publicity after ex-Russian colonel Sergei Skripal was poisoned with deadly Novichok in an assassination attempt blamed on the Kremlin.

But instead of being put off by his near death fate, recruiters at its Vauxhall Cross HQ have instead seen a spike in applications from patriotic Brits.

MI6’s head of recruitment, named only as Emily, told journalists during a rare briefing: “Yes we have seen a rise in interest.

“We have had more highly motivated candidates come forward.

“It’s inevitable that with a secret organisation not often in the public domain that attention raises our profile.”

British spies recruited Mr Skripal when he was working for the GRU Russian military intelligence  agency in the 1990s.

MI6 also yesterday revealed the annual pay cheque for a new recruit intelligence officer is between £35,000-£37,000.

As he launched a new recruitment drive to specially target women and ethnic minorities, MI6 Chief Alex Younger admitted he pays poorly compared to elite jobs in the private sector.

The foreign espionage agency is forced to abide by the same pay cap as the rest of the public sector, which has seen any salary rise limited to 1%.

Mr Younger said: “What we can’t do is compete on salary.

“But what we can offer is a unique and rewarding career that is fundamentally about protecting our country and its value.”

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