‘No Friend of China’: As Raab Exits Stage Left, What Will UK Foreign Policy Look Like Under Truss?
Liz Truss is only the second woman ever to become Foreign Secretary - Margaret Beckett held the post under Tony Blair between 2006 and 2007. But who is Truss and what will her foreign policy priorities be?
On Liz Truss’s first day as the new foreign secretary, the headlines were dominated by the signing of a new security pact between Britain, Australia and the United States which was apparently aimed at China.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the so-called AUKUS pact risked "severely damaging regional peace.”
It may have been a complete coincidence but Truss is one of the Conservative Party’s most prominent Sinophobes.
Inderjeet Parmar, an international relations expert and professor of International Politics at City University, told Sputnik: “As Trade Secretary, she managed trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, and also Japan, and wants to pressure China on trade and security; and wants the WTO to reject China’s ‘developing’ country status that allows it exemptions that developed states don’t possess.”
Prof Parmar said: “Truss is also more robustly critical of China so will have to tread a line of economic opportunities and security issues. But as trade minister she advocated Britain's economic and diplomatic realignment towards the Indo-Pacific region, spearheading efforts to join a trans-Pacific trading bloc.”
© REUTERS / Jeff Gilbert/PoolBritain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab looks on during a visit of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Crisis Centre in London, Britain August 27, 2021
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab looks on during a visit of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Crisis Centre in London, Britain August 27, 2021
Boris Johnson appointed Truss, 46, to replace Dominic Raab on Wednesday, 15 September, as a reward for her work securing a string of new trade deals following Britain’s departure from the European Union.
But who exactly is she?
Prof Parmar said: “Truss is adaptable. She has moved from left to right since her youth protesting against Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, switched from Remain to Brexit once the referendum result declared and is now a militant Brexiteer. She will be who she has to be to ‘succeed’ and raise her own profile.”
Truss co-authored a book, Britannia Unchained, in 2012 with Raab, Priti Patel and Kwasi Kwarteng.
Prof Parmar said the book was “very controversial, deeply Eurosceptic and neoliberal and against the social state.”
He said Truss was fiercely pro-American and is very keen the “Special Relationship” with the United States and also wants to nurture relations with Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
“There is an imperial nostalgia working here, to make Britain great again if you like,” said Prof Parmar.
© AFP 2021 / OLI SCARFFConservative politician Liz Truss, who served as Environment Secretary under David Cameron, arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on July 14, 2016 as cabinet appointments by new prime minister Theresa May are expected on her first full day in office
Conservative politician Liz Truss, who served as Environment Secretary under David Cameron, arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on July 14, 2016 as cabinet appointments by new prime minister Theresa May are expected on her first full day in office
Truss, who is married and has two daughters, worked as a management accountant before becoming the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk in 2010.
David Cameron appointed her Environment Secretary in 2014 and when Theresa May took over as Prime Minister in July 2016 she moved Truss to Justice Secretary before reshuffling her the following year and making her Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
When Boris Johnson took over in the summer of 2019 he promoted her to the key post-Brexit role of International Trade Secretary and later added the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.
So Liz Truss will be foreign secretary and remain the minister for women and equalities. Which one of those does Johnson think ought to be a part time job?— Jonathan Lis (@jonlis1) September 15, 2021
He has now promoted her to one of the biggest jobs in the Cabinet and is aware of her ambition to one day become Prime Minister.
Truss’s in-tray includes the aftermath of the Afghanistan debacle, tensions with Russia and China, the Iranian nuclear issue and perhaps most important of all the post-Brexit relationship with the EU and the ongoing migrant crisis.
Prof Parmar said: “It’s hard to say precisely what will change but she seems quite effective, is ambitious for Tory leadership and may well use the office to raise her own profile and public recognition.”