As Paul wrote last week, Theresa May had a tough job on her hands getting the United States and various European countries to join the UK’s action against Russia. The mix of ideological sympathies, political and cultural ties, cynical relativism, and the plain brute force of gas supplies, which the Kremlin habitually uses to bolster its position, stood in her way.
However, she has succeeded in securing action nonetheless. After the UK’s decision to expel 23 ‘diplomats’, believed to be intelligence officers, 18 other countries are following suit. They range from the Anglosphere, (the US and Canada) across the EU (France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Estonia, Croatia, Finland, Latvia, Romania, and Sweden) into the Balkans (Albania) and Eastern Europe (Ukraine).
In addition to the 23 Russian agents sent home by the UK, this make a further 109 expelled by our various allies, including 60 from the US alone.
The news was hailed by the Foreign Secretary as an “extraordinary international response by our allies”, amounting to “the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever”. That’s a success on the part of the Government, as well as a reminder that the hype about Britain’s supposed isolation post-Brexit is much exaggerated. Just as we remain true to our friends and allies, they remain true to us – particularly when an event like the attack on Salisbury reminds everyone of the presence of common values and a common threat.