Welcome to Trussworld

Welcome to Trussworld

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NEW YORK – Just hours after reading at the Queen’s funeral, Britain’s new Prime Minister traveled to New York to put his stand on the world stage. The biggest question waiting for him: Was anyone listening?

The trip had been carefully planned by the transition team preparing for the arrival of a new occupant of 10 Downing Street over the summer. For Truss, who arrived in Downing Street with a more distinct – if less recognized – foreign policy agenda than her predecessors, the UN General Assembly was an important exit.

A No 10 official said the monarch’s passing forced Truss’ team to briefly consider the possibility that she might not make it. But while she insisted to reporters traveling on her plane that she had focused on the period of national mourning, in reality she was multitasking as work began behind the scenes to establish a “lite” program for the trip, said one person involved. , with more political meetings and fewer receptions. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have been a global star, but for the team coordinating these trips, some of which have remained in Downing Street, Truss is more reliable and less prone to unscripted hubbub.

His two previous jobs as Secretary of International Trade and Secretary of Foreign Affairs provided him with a launching pad for formulating his vision of the world: namely, one in which democracies must prevail in a battle of ideas against authoritarian regimes. such as Russia and China.

“There is a real struggle going on between different forms of society – between democracies and autocracies,” she told delegates. “If democratic societies do not provide the economy and security that our citizens expect, we will fall behind.”

She called on the G7 and like-minded partners to act as an “economic NATO”, collectively championing prosperity.

What’s less clear is whether anyone took notice: In a sparsely attended room, Truss’s words fell somewhat flat after a 12-hour day of speeches in which US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskyy, via video, had also spoken. Biden even hosted a leaders’ reception at a museum across town that began just before Truss’ speech. The traveling British press pack had also gone home by the time she spoke to report on an impending economic announcement and few others appeared to want to stay.

There was little buzz surrounding its debut, according to two American and European participants. One suggested it was inevitable – with all eyes on Biden and Zelenskyyy, and in particular, after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the nuclear threat – but another criticized his decision not to. involve any foreign media in the trip.

Prime Minister for Foreign Policy

Truss places particular emphasis on expanding the traditional G7 gang to embrace nearby countries like India, Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.

Truss told POLITICO en route to New York: “Our foreign policy is about working closely with our allies to strengthen our economic security and our material security, and it’s about building deeper partnerships, of course, with our long-time allies like the United States and our European colleagues, but also with countries like India for whom we want closer defense and economic cooperation [with].”

She added: “Japan is a very important ally – Australia, New Zealand, moving forward with AUKUS so we can make sure democracies aren’t undermined and we don’t see a increasing encroachment of authoritarianism around the world”, referring to the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

One of his first New York audiences was with Japanese Fumio Kishida, a friendly encounter that took place over bento boxes at a Midtown restaurant where Truss proved to be very good with chopsticks.

A senior government official described her worldview as “a big part of her identity” and said she tended to be “overactive” on that front.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before a bilateral lunch meeting at a Japanese restaurant during their visit to the United States | Toby Melville – Pool/Getty Images

A former Conservative Party adviser predicted: “Foreign policy [under the Truss administration] going to be run from No 10. People say it was always like that, but it’s not the same,” noting of his Foreign Secretary James Cleverly: “He’s a nice, fun guy who walks around being jovial.

Another priority is to show firmness in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Standing up to Moscow was at the center of all his UNGA activities and also informed his new leading team.

She appointed Vicky Ford as development minister and brought her into the cabinet – a role that is expected to focus on rebuilding in Ukraine.

The best plans

But despite all the words of solidarity on Russia and China, the Prime Minister’s meetings with Western allies have been overshadowed by the ongoing impasse over trade rules in Northern Ireland.

While Downing Street may have wanted to focus on Ukraine, Biden had other ideas. His national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, loudly announced the president’s desire to discuss protocol, and Biden said he was ‘looking forward to hearing what you think’ in reference to Northern Ireland. .

However, after the meeting, which ended, a Downing Street spokesperson only said they agreed ‘that the priority must be to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and to preserve the gains of peace in Northern Ireland”, in line with previous statements.

She avoided the subject altogether during her one-on-one with French President Emmanuel Macron, while it was briefly mentioned in neutral terms in official accounts of her meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

A sense of lack of progress has been heightened by signals from the government that they see the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace accord next year as a key decision point.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman denied that Truss was letting the matter drift. “The view is that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed,” he said, suggesting they saw the meeting with von der Leyen – which went privately unaided – as the most successful on this front.

British officials have also balked at the idea that the new prime minister has had no impact.

UK Ambassador to the US Karen Pierce told reporters: “She knows America very well. She’s been coming here for a number of years in other forms… She’s come personally from time to time, and she’s established a very good working relationship.

Separately, a diplomatic aide said Truss would remain steadfast on Ukraine, noting that it was backed by continued public support, support much stronger than that of France or Germany.

They described Britain’s tough stance against Russia as both politically expedient and morally right: “That’s just as well, because after Brexit, without Ukraine, what is our foreign policy?”

Emma Anderson contributed reporting.


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