Got to hand it to this government, who true to form have managed to turn the one positive narrative they’ve had in months into a total omnishambles. This incorrect FCO tweet from two weeks ago claiming Porton Down experts had determined the Novichok was made in Russia has been deleted. Whichever FCO mandarin who tried to disappear this tweet to cover up their incompetence has properly landed everyone else in it.
Russia was clearly responsible for the attack on the Skripals – as the Porton Down scientist said yesterday it had to be a state actor – and the intelligence obviously points to Russia. Yet Gary Aitkenhead’s interview was a total PR disaster, giving out the misleading top line that the government can’t be sure it was Russia. Why did the MoD let this broadcast novice in front of the cameras?
Just when May had succeeded in getting the international community on board – one of her best achievements to date – they have conjured doubt where there should be none. Russia is already taking full advantage, gleefully tweeting out the deleted FCO screengrab and making out the British government lied. Corbynistas are echoing the conspiratorial Kremlin line and claiming this proves Seumas and Corbyn were right all along. All the grown ups in Whitehall are on holiday as the UK’s position internationally becomes needlessly undermined. What a mess.