At UN, Truss aims to show UK can still lead on world stage

United Nations – British Prime Minister Liz Truss, a politician often compared to “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, is presenting herself to the world as a tough leader in difficult times.

The new prime minister has come to the United Nations to argue that in an increasingly unstable world, like-minded allies need to rally against “those who seek to weaponize the global economy”.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Truss will call on bodies such as the Group of Seven industrialized nations to act as the economic equivalent of NATO, helping each other to cope. economic shock caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a defining moment in British history, in the history of this institution, and in the history of liberty,” Truss will say, according to excerpts pre-released by her office.

“The story of 2022 could be an authoritarian state rolling its tanks across the border of a peaceful neighbor and subduing its people. Instead, it’s a story about freedom fighting back. … But this is not a one-time thing. “

Two years after Britain dismayed many of its allies by leaving the European Union, Truss wanted to reassure the world that her country would be “a reliable, dependable and dynamic partner” for with other democracies – for Ukraine. She will pledge Britain’s “total” commitment to the fight against Ukraine’s aggression, including other £2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in military aid to the UK Older brother.

Truss plans to overhaul Britain’s foreign and security policy, which was updated just last year, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine undermined global security. She has also pledged to increase defense spending to 3% of gross domestic product, from the current level of just over 2%.

Truss also said en route to New York that Russia would only be freed from international sanctions if it “compensated” for its invasion. She did not elaborate, but US officials are looking into whether property seized from wealthy Russians could be used to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine.

It all makes for a bold start for a new leader who took office in just two weeks. Truss won the Conservative Party leadership contest earlier this month and was appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on September 6, just two days before the monarch’s death. The first days of Truss’ tenure were enveloped by a period of national mourning, so the trip to the UN represented the launch of both her international goals and domestic agenda.

Truss is a tough orator, so her speech is unlikely to contain the fireworks of her famous predecessor Boris Johnson, who surprised his UNGA audience in 2019 with a speech about technology mentioned “terrifying limbless chickens” and “Pink-Eyed Terminator from the Future.”

She’s aiming to capture the mood of a critical global moment, as Thatcher did in 1989, when she hailed the thaw of the Cold War but offered a forewarning of change. climate. Thatcher said that humans are not “the lords of all that we survey,” but “the creatures of God, trustees on this planet, who today have the responsibility to preserve life.” its own”.

Or as Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned in 2009 that it would be a “failure of global responsibility” if the world’s poorest countries did not participate in the global recovery from the Great Recession – a threat to the world. Threats go almost unnoticed.

Before Truss delivers her speech, she will hold her first meeting as prime minister with President Joe Biden. The two leaders have divergent economic views, with Truss advocating a label of low-tax free-market policies derided by Democrats like Biden as “drip economics.”

The two countries’ shared approach to Ukraine has helped heal the transatlantic rift caused by Brexit. Truss’ hawkish statements about “China’s growing assertiveness” and calls for Western allies to cut their dependence on Russian oil and gas also resonated with the American leader’s views.

But Brexit, and its impact on Northern Ireland’s peace process, has spurred what both sides often refer to as the “Special Relationship” between the UK and the EU.

The UK’s departure from the EU has entailed new customs checks and paperwork for trade in Northern Ireland, the part of the UK that shares a border with EU member Ireland. The issue has turned into a political crisis for the power-sharing government in Belfast, for which the UK and EU blame each other.

Britain has enacted legislation to tear up part of its Brexit treaty with the EU – a move that angered the bloc and alarmed Washington. Proud Irish-American Biden has warned that neither side should do anything to undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the cornerstone of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Concern about Northern Ireland in the US administration and Congress is one of the reasons why negotiations for a Anglo-American free trade agreement – which are seen by British Conservative politicians as one of the best solutions to the problem. Brexit legislation has long since stalled. Truss acknowledged Monday that there is no prospect of such a deal “in the short to medium term.”

Truss told reporters on her plane that “my preference is a negotiated deal. … But what I will not allow is to let this situation go. “

Truss avoided causing a stir during meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and others in New York. However, Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan said it was on the agenda for the two leaders’ meeting on Wednesday.

Kim Darroch, a former British ambassador to Washington, said Truss and Biden “see things in Ukraine the same way”.

“But that could only be part of the conversation when they met in New York,” Darroch told British broadcaster LBC. “And the Northern Ireland Protocol will also be part of it. And I suspect (will be) quite difficult.”

AP London correspondent Jill Lawless is being assigned to accompany the British prime minister to cover the United Nations General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at

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