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Theresa May urges EU 'all-for-one' in face of Russian threat

Credit: PA

Welcome to the mother of all press rooms, the cavernous European Union filing and TV centre in the middle of Brussels.

I am placed at the British end, which - you guessed - is right by the exit.

There are revolving doors, but they are not an appropriate metaphor.

It's an odd thing, Theresa May coming here now to appeal for a strong EU statement of condemnation against Russia for what she sees as a serious infringement of our sovereign rights and international law in the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Ms May will appeal to France's president Macron for support Credit: PA

She wants EU unity in the face of a Russia which she sees as the strategic enemy of all EU members.

And maybe she will get it. Any minute now she will prepare the ground in a private meeting with Germany's Chancellor Merkel and France's president Macron.

Other EU members cannot but fail to see the irony in a Brexit prime minister urging all-for-one.

Probably, as a final punchline to the UK's 40 years of semi-detached partnership with the EU, they will proclaim their solidarity in no uncertain terms with their British chums.

But it will be with a twinkle, as proof - if such were needed - that it is not just Britons who have a sense of humour.

PS: So May seems to have got the solidarity she wanted from Merkel and Macron. Here is Downing Street’s statement following their meeting:

“The UK, Germany and France reaffirmed that there is no plausible explanation other than that the Russian state was responsible [for the Salisbury poisonings].

The leaders agreed on the importance of sending a strong European message in response to Russia's actions and agreed to remain in close contact in coming days”.

Which implies, perhaps, that other EU countries will follow the UK’s lead and will expel some Russian diplomats. But not all will. And these will be national and not EU responses.

PPS: So the EU has decided, as I thought it would, that Brexit or no-Brexit it would manifest the solidarity with the UK against Russia that Theresa May ardently wanted. After a couple of hours agonised discussion over dinner, EU government heads have issued a formal statement - via a Tweet by EU president Donald Tusk - that the only plausible explanation for the Salisbury atrocity is that Russia did it.

Which may sound like a statement of the bloomin’ obvious to many. But it is a big shift over just a few hours, since their earlier draft statement would only say that the UK charge against Russia should be taken seriously.

Putin won’t be quaking. But he will presumably now assume that other EU countries will start to expel Russian diplomats too.