Katy Balls

Theresa May is losing the PR battle on Syria

Theresa May is losing the PR battle on Syria
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After Theresa May's Cabinet agreed on the 'need to take action' in Syria, it seems a matter of when, not if, military strikes against the Assad regime take place. But the strikes won't be the end of the matter politically. Labour have been quick to stir up trouble, with Jeremy Corbyn describing the government as 'waiting for instructions' from Donald Trump.

The British government is also struggling to keep up with a Russian propaganda barrage. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected claims that there is evidence proving the Assad regime is behind the alleged attack – instead claiming its specialists have evidence that it had been faked:

'We have irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this staged event.'

Whatever this 'evidence' consists of, it's becoming clear that any action the UK government takes must be served up with a carefully crafted comms operation. While the airwaves and social media have been filled with Russian propaganda this week, Theresa May is yet to really make the public case for military intervention. Even last week, the government found itself on the back foot on intelligence surrounding the Salisbury incident thanks to a clumsy interview with Porton Down laboratory's chief executive. As a politician, May is not naturally inclined to make the public case for her plans and proposals. But with the digital world changing how international diplomacy is done, the Maybot will need to adapt to the new rules of engagement – and fast.