Liz Truss: New Foreign Secretary continues Britain’s bungled priorities abroad

EDITORIAL


FRONT pages this week understandably focused on the domestic chaos surrounding the Conservative Party.

But there was also much to dissect in a wide-ranging speech from Liz Truss, who took the mantle of Foreign Secretary just three months ago.

If you’re unfortunate enough to follow her on Twitter, you’ll see constant announcements about trade deals and proclamations of a post-Brexit global Britain.

At Chatham House this week, however, Truss went on the offensive and fired warning shots at the UK’s traditional enemies in Russia and Iran.

“Any incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a strategic mistake,” she said, promising to stand by Ukraine.

“The problem here is Russian aggression, the problem is that Russia have built up troops and forces on the Ukrainian border.”

Naturally, this ignores all essence of NATO aggression in the region – but that’s fairly standard as far as Conservative Foreign Secretaries go.

Iran was also on the menu.

She said: “We will also work night and day to prevent the Iranian regime from ever getting a nuclear weapon.”

Again, fairly standard as it goes. Any convergence from this view would certainly have dominated the news cycle, to say the least.

But her line on the repayment of a historic £400million debt – said to be the reason for the detention of some British-Iranian dual nationals – was an interesting one. It appears to be a slight change from her predecessor Dominic Raab, who dismissed a report in May that Britain would pay the debt for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release.

“We do want to pay this debt, we recognise it’s a legitimate debt,” Truss conceded.

“But of course, there are lots of issues, which I’m sure you are quite well aware of.”

This is also linked to the appointment of Ben Wallace as Secretary of Defence. As a backbencher, he campaigned for the payment of the debt.

Both will likely push for an understated financial deal to solve the diplomatic crisis.

Overall, despite some concessions, it’s much of the same when it comes to UK foreign policy as seen with Raab and Jeremy Hunt.

She emphasised the importance of being proud of Britain’s global history, taking the culture war to the foreign policy stage.

Liz Truss is, for the Tories, the ideal minister in the ideal role. Her dedication to building a post-Brexit Britain with a dash of neo-colonialism, imperial nostalgia and unnecessary sabre-rattling endears her to the backbenches.

But to really build a “network of Liberty”, Truss must call out those nations Britain is currently close to that are wreaking global havoc. Redaction won’t hold its breath.

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Featured Image: Chris McAndrew (credit) (CC BY 3.0)

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