THERESA May’s resolve after the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury stood in contrast to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who failed to condemn the culpability of the Russian state after it offered no explanation for the use of a ‘military grade’ nerve agent on British soil.
Mrs May proved her mettle. Not to expel 23 Russian diplomats, and take other steps to protect Britain’s national security, would have been an act of weakness on the Prime Minister’s part after her 36-hour ultimatum to Moscow to provide a plausible explanation for the use of this chemical weapon, which it ignored. What is deeply disturbing is that the Opposition leader again disassociated himself from Parliament’s unequivocal condemnation and cross-party consensus that has emerged in recent days.
As she said, Vladimir Putin’s government has shown “complete disdain” for the gravity of these events by responding, in the defiant words of the Tory leader, with “sarcasm, contempt and defiance” that must not go unchecked if the monitoring of chemical weapons is not to be undermined by an increasingly reckless Russian regime that has shattered the hope that existed after the break-up of the former Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Prime Minister’s response is proportionate while also garnering the support of the United Nations, Nato, the EU and those longstanding allies of the UK whose democracy and security has also been compromised by these acts of aggression. As she said, Britain’s grievance is not with the Russian people or its law-abiding citizens who have made their home here; it is with a rogue state which disregards the laws governing global democracy. The question now is how the wider world channels its outrage and holds Russia to account for its bullying – Britain, with or without Mr Corbyn’s acquiescence, can’t do it alone.