At the UN, Truss wants to show that the UK can still lead on the world stage


UNITED NATIONS (TNZT) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss, a politician often compared to ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher, presents herself to the world as a rock-solid leader for difficult times.

The new prime minister has come to the United Nations to argue that in an increasingly unstable world, like-minded allies must unite against “those who want to arm the global economy”.

In her address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Truss will call on organizations like the Group of Seven industrialized nations to act as an economic equivalent to NATO and help each other weather the economic shocks that have been hit. caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a defining moment in British history, in the history of this organization and in the history of freedom,” Truss will say, according to excerpts released in advance by her office.

“The story of 2022 could be that of an authoritarian state rolling its tanks over a peaceful neighbor’s border and subjugating its people. Instead, it is the story of freedom fighting back. … But this should not be a one-off.”

Two years after Britain stunned many of its allies by leaving the European Union, Truss wants to reassure the world that her country will be a “trustworthy, dependable and dynamic partner” for fellow democracies — most urgently for Ukraine. She pledges Britain’s “total” commitment to Ukraine’s fight against the invasion, including an additional £2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in British military aid.

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

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Truss also said on his way to New York that Russia will only be freed from international sanctions if it pays “compensation” for its invasion. She did not provide details, but US officials are investigating whether assets seized from wealthy Russians could be used to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction.

It all adds up to a bold start for a leader in office for just two weeks. Truss won a Conservative Party leadership contest early this month and was appointed Prime Minister by Queen Elizabeth II on September 6, just two days before the monarch died. The early days of Truss’s tenure are shrouded in national mourning, so the trip to the UN represents the debut of both her international goals and her domestic agenda.

Truss is a rock-solid orator, so her speech is unlikely to feature the fireworks of her eloquent predecessor Boris Johnson, who left his UNGA audience stunned in 2019 with a talk about technology featuring “terrifying limbless chickens” and “pink-eyed Terminators of the future.”

She wants to capture the atmosphere of a pivotal global moment, as Thatcher did in 1989, when she welcomed the thawing of the Cold War but gave a foresighted warning about climate change. Thatcher said humans were not “the lords of all that we overlook,” but “the Lord’s creatures, the stewards of this planet, who today are charged with preserving life itself.”

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Or as Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned in 2009 it would be “a failure of global responsibility” if the world’s poorest countries did not share in the global recovery from the Great Recession – a plea that has been largely ignored.

Before giving her speech, Truss holds her first meeting as Prime Minister with President Joe Biden. The two leaders hold differing economic views, with Truss advocating a sort of low-tax free-market policy that Democrats like Biden deride as “trickle-down economics.”

The two countries’ common approach to Ukraine has to some extent healed a transatlantic divide caused by Brexit. Truss’s aggressive statements about “China’s increasing assertiveness” and calls for Western allies to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas are also in line with the US leader’s views.

But Brexit, and its impact on the Northern Ireland peace process, has driven a wedge in what both sides sentimentally refer to as the “special relationship” between the UK and the EU.

Britain’s departure from the EU has brought new customs controls and paperwork for trade in Northern Ireland, a 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 introduced 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 no side should do anything to undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the cornerstone of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

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Concerns about Northern Ireland among the US government and Congress are one of the reasons why talks over a UK-US free trade agreement – ​​long held up by British conservative politicians as one of the prizes of Brexit – have stalled. Truss acknowledged Monday that there is no prospect of such a deal “in the short to medium term”.

Truss told reporters aboard her plane that “I prefer a negotiated settlement. … But what I will not allow is for this situation to drift.”

Truss has avoided raising the issue during meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and others in New York. But 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 the same way in Ukraine”.

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


London-based TNZT correspondent Jill Lawless is traveling with the British Prime Minister on assignment to cover the UN General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at


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