PM May's Anti-Russia Stance Largely for Own Political Gain, Not UK Security

© REUTERS / Toby MelvilleBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, March 13, 2018
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, March 13, 2018 - Sputnik International
The poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this month was quickly blamed on Russia without conclusive evidence, and resulted in the UK subsequently expelling 23 Russian diplomats from the country.

In retaliation, the Russian government announced its own package of diplomatic sanctions, which includes the expulsion of 23 British diplomats from their posts across Russia.

Given the prevailing anti-Russia sentiment in the UK, most MPs were keen to see some sort of punitive measures imposed against Russia, though a number of politicians and analysts have cast doubt on Russia's involvement in the Skripal poisoning.

Police stand outside a house in New Malden, southwest London, Wednesday March 14, 2018, which has been sealed-off after Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov has been found dead - Sputnik International
UK Police See No Connection Between Skripal and Glushkov Cases
A former Guernsey MP warned the "UK could end up looking very foolish" over its handling of the investigation and pointed out that Russia's alleged use of the Novichok nerve agent in such an attack would be senseless, as it seemingly traces back to them.

"It is blatantly obvious that the Russian government would not be stupid enough to use the Novichok agent for such an operation as it suggests Russian involvement, but the Conservative government seems to think the British public is gullible enough to believe it. But maybe the British public is not so gullible? The UK government could end up looking very foolish," Mr. Webber told Sputnik News last week.

Despite PM Theresa May's apparent certainty of some level of Russian involvement in the attack, she may in fact not be convinced that Russia possesses any level of culpability, but opted to impose the sanctions and pave the way for an escalation to suit her own political agenda, on a number of levels.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session, in parliament in London, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - Sputnik International
'Political Games': May Accuses Russia in Bid to Look Like Thatcher - Analyst
May has been floundering since she entered office in mid-2016, with her decision to call a snap general election to strengthen her party's position ahead of UK-EU Brexit negotiations backfiring, as her party lost its majority in the House of Commons, and had to agree a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Union Party (DUP) to pass through legislation. 

The poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the option to quickly retaliate against Russia presented her with an opportunity to look strong, decisive and bold, as opposed to her usual incompetent and feeble self.

An escalation with Russia also tackles some of May's other problems. Since the news broke of Skripal's poisoning, the story has dominated the headlines in the UK, and, by pointing blame in Russia's direction and escalating, she has prolonged and accentuated the story's coverage, effectively drowning out the coverage of other contemporary matters, which are largely unfavorable for her.

Even if May wasn't actively looking to yield some sort of political gain from this development, it still makes sense for her to press ahead with anti-Russia measures, as approaching the crisis rationally and diplomatically would have resulted in some backlash.

READ MORE: 'Lying Full Volume': Twitter Blasts Boris Johnson Over Latest Skripal Claims

Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn tentatively raised doubts about Russian involvement in the incident, and was crucified by the media and even branded a traitor for calling for restraint until a thorough investigation provided some answers.

PM May is likely to have faced a similar level of criticism and scrutiny, and, given her recent history and performance, it's unclear if her political career would have been able to survive another blow.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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