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NEW YORK – Just hours after reading at the Queen’s funeral, Britain’s new prime minister flew to New York to take her booth onto the world stage. The biggest question that awaits her: Was anyone listening?
The trip has been the focus of careful planning by the transition team preparing for the arrival of a new occupant at No. 10 Downing Street over the summer. For Truss, who arrived in Downing Street with a foreign policy agenda more distinct – though less name recognition – than her predecessors, the UN General Assembly was an important outing.
Official No. 10 said the Queen’s death forced Truss’ team to think briefly about the possibility that she would not succeed. But while she insisted to reporters traveling on her plane that her focus was on the period of national mourning, in fact, she was multitasking as work began behind the scenes to put together a “lightened” schedule for the flight, one of the people involved said. , with more policy meetings and fewer receptions. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have been a world star, but for the team that coordinated such trips, some of whom remain in Downing Street, Truss is more reliable and less prone to unscripted annoyances.
Her two previous jobs, as Secretary of International Trade and Secretary of State, provided a springboard from which to craft her view of the world: which one in which democracies should prevail in the battle of ideas against authoritarian regimes like Russia and China.
“There is a real struggle going on between different forms of society – between democracies and authoritarian regimes,” she told delegates. “Unless democratic societies deliver the economy and security that our citizens expect, we will be left behind.”
She called on the G7 and like-minded partners to act as an “economic NATO” to collectively defend prosperity.
What’s less clear is whether anyone took any notice: In a sparsely attended auditorium, Truss’s words slipped somewhat after a day of 12-hour speeches in which U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke, via video link. Biden even hosted a reception for leaders at a museum across town that began before Truss’ speech. The British itinerant press group had also returned home by the time I spoke for an impending economic announcement and not many others seemed to want to stay.
There was little hype around her debut, according to two attendees from the US and Europe. One suggested that this was inevitable — with all eyes on Biden and Zelensky, and in particular, after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the nuclear threat — but another criticized her decision not to take any foreign media on the trip.
PM . foreign policy
Truss attaches special importance to expanding the traditional G7 gang to hug nearby countries including India, Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.
Truss told Politico on his way to New York: “What our foreign policy is about is working closely with our allies to enhance our economic security and our difficult security, and it’s about getting into deeper partnerships, of course, with our old allies like the United States and our European colleagues, but also with countries Like India we want closer defense and economic cooperation [with]. “
“Japan is a very important ally – Australia and New Zealand, they are moving forward with AUKUS so we can make sure we don’t undermine democracies and we don’t see increased encroachment on authoritarianism around the world,” she added, referring to the tripartite security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
One of her first audiences was in New York with Japanese Fumio Kishida, a friendly encounter held on bento boxes at a downtown restaurant where Truss proved to go hand in hand with chopsticks.
A senior government official described her worldview as “a big part of her identity” and said she tends to be “hyperactive” on this front.
A former Tory adviser predicted: foreign policy [under the Truss administration] From number 10, people say it’s like that, but it’s different,” she recalled, referring to her Secretary of State James Cleverley, “He’s a nice cheerful guy who’s going to go all over the place to be cheerful. ”
Another priority is to show toughness in the Ukraine-Russia war. Standing up to Moscow was central to all of its activities in the UN General Assembly, as it informed its new supreme team.
I appointed Vicky Ford as Minister of Development and brought her to the Cabinet – a role that is expected to focus on reconstruction in Ukraine.
The best plans
But for all his words of solidarity over Russia and China, the prime minister’s meetings with Western allies have been overshadowed by the ongoing stalemate over Northern Ireland’s trade rules.
While Downing Street may have wanted to focus on Ukraine, Biden had other ideas. His National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan loudly declared the president’s desire to discuss the protocol, and Biden declared that he “looks forward to hearing what’s on your mind” with reference to Northern Ireland.
However, after the meeting, which ended, only a Downing Street spokesman said they agreed “that the priority should be protecting the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday) and preserving the peace gains in Northern Ireland”, in line with previous statements.
She avoided the topic entirely in her one-on-one dialogue with French President Emmanuel Macron, while it was mentioned succinctly in neutral terms in the official readings of her meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
It exacerbated the feeling of lack of progress Signals from the government They view the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement next year as a major decision point.
The prime minister’s spokesman denied that Truss had allowed the order to deviate. “The view is that this is an important issue that needs to be resolved,” he said, noting that they saw the meeting with von der Leyen – who happened in a private session without assistants – as the most helpful in this regard.
British officials also criticized the idea that the new prime minister had no effect.
The UK’s ambassador to the US, Karen Pierce, told reporters: “She knows America very well. She has been here for several years in other forms… She comes in person from time to time, and has built really good working relationships.”
Separately, diplomatic aid reflected that Truss would remain steadfast in Ukraine, noting that she was backed by continued public support, much stronger than support in France or Germany.
They described Britain’s strong stance against Russia as politically appropriate and morally correct: “It is also, because after Brexit, without Ukraine, what is our foreign policy?”
Emma Anderson contributed reporting.