Theresa May hasn’t had many wins during her tumultuous premiership but her dealing with the Russian chemical weapons attack in Salisbury was certainly one of them. Finally she was taken seriously both at home and on the international stage as a steadfast figure head leading the international condemnation of a rogue attack. So few and far between are these occasions for May that she needs to hold onto them.
Yet, as the World Cup gets into full swing, who is talking about the Salisbury attack? Just months later, when you say Russia people think of football, office sweepstakes and Robbie Williams in a red leopard print suit make rude gestures rather than chemical weapons. It seems that the Russian state is undergoing an image rebrand which is leaving May’s shining moment somewhat diminished.
What this starkly demonstrates is the flimsiness of international wins when it comes to long lasting effects on the domestic stage. Whilst in the moment they are easy to overestimate, ultimately these successes on the international stage are more often than not swallowed by the day to day ups and downs of domestic politics.
In this case, all it took was some men kicking around a ball and Theresa May’s golden moment is lost amongst talks of an open and friendly Russia. For her the day to day seems to have been more downs than ups and she is back to being a Prime Minister barely holding her Cabinet together.
Theresa May probably never thought she’d look back on a Cold War style attempted assassination with illegal chemical weapons on sovereign soil with such fondness.