Katy Balls

After the Salisbury attack, who is isolated now?

After the Salisbury attack, who is isolated now?
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No 10 can breathe a sigh of relief this afternoon. Not only has Theresa May's response to the attempted murder of a former Russian double agent on British soil won her plaudits back home, it has also been met by a rigorous international response.

With Germany, France, Ukraine and Canada already expelling envoys, today America joined the fold. Donald Trump has ordered 60 Russian diplomats to leave the country in response to Russia's alleged use of a nerve agent in Salisbury. A White House spokesperson said:

'The United States takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world in response to Russia's use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom, the latest in its ongoing pattern of destabilising activities around the world.'

This is the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever. It comes after several joint statements in support of the UK government's finding that the only plausible explanation of the use of a chemical weapon in Salisbury is that the Russian government was behind the attack.

Boris Johnson has been quick to herald the international response as 'extraordinary'. What is particularly pleasing to the government is that in Whitehall one of the motives of the attack is thought to be that Putin wished to work out and exploit Britain's standing in the world post-Brexit. Would the UK's European Union allies still stick with a Britain that had rejected them at the polls? The answer is a loud and clear yes. Thanks in part to Theresa May's steady handling of the incident, any test of Britain's strength has been passed with flying colours.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor. She is also a columnist for the i paper.

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