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Tough week for Ardern, May

Opinion Piece

Last week was a bad one for two women prime ministers, but the problems of Jacinda Ardern pale beside the challenges faced by Britain’s Theresa May.

Ardern was let down by her party officials who bungled the response to allegations of sexual assaults at a Young Labour summer camp where alcohol flowed freely for under-aged attendees, and kept her out of the loop on it for three weeks?. . . although in doing that they also kept most of the mud away from their leader.

However, it left Ardern to be ambushed at a media conference and made to look out of touch.

The harm to Ardern personally is minimal. She has been criticised for taking a further two days to announce a formal response to the situation, and for being too forgiving of her officials.

Theresa May faced a far harder challenge over the attempted murder in Salisbury of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who are still critically ill in hospital.

Once the nerve agent used was identified as Novichok, produced by Russia, May had no choice but to act decisively.

The only possible explanations are that Russia allowed a chemical weapon to be diverted from one of its facilities or, much more likely, it was used with the full knowledge of the Russian government. It also has a track record of using banned weapons to assassinate targets in foreign countries.

In a speedy tit-for-tat, Britain expelled 23 diplomats and Russia retaliated by expelling the same number and closing the British Council in Moscow.

The issue is not likely to end there and May could have to take further action.

Russia would be worried about any effect on the Football World Cup to be held there in July. Hosting that is a huge personal project for Putin. Already it has been announced that no members of the British royal family or senior members of government will attend.

Putin has become increasingly despotic since he first attained power in 2000. Many consider him a greater risk to the world order than US President Donald Trump because he knows what he is doing, and is following a plan.