Prime Minister Liz Truss headed to New York shortly after attending the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II – Copyright POOL/AFP PHIL NOBLE
Hours after a dark speech at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, new British Prime Minister Liz Truss flew out to present her debut at the UN General Assembly.
This week in New York, Boris Johnson’s successor is scheduled to meet with US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron – two leaders who are opposed to Truss’ hardline on Brexit and Northern Ireland.
Truss was appointed on 6 September in one of Queen Elizabeth II’s last ceremonial acts as head of state. She died two days later, prompting 10 days of national mourning during which political life in the UK was suspended.
The respite will prove short-lived as Truss delves into tough diplomacy and her nascent government grapples with the cost-of-living crisis sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is hurting millions at home.
She is scheduled to return to London on Thursday, a day before Treasury Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is to issue an emergency budget statement after the government has promised a costly scheme to curb skyrocketing electricity bills.
At the UN, Truss will seek to “stimulate further international action to end energy dependence on Russia and ensure the world never finds itself in that position again,” a spokesman told reporters.
It will also build on Johnson’s outspoken support for Ukraine because “the whole world suffers when a regime like that of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is allowed to intimidate and blackmail its neighbors,” the spokesman said.
Truss is expected to say in his keynote speech at the UN on Wednesday that the UK will remain a “strong defender of our democratic values” against authoritarian enemies.
– “Unbreakable” connection –
Truss was scheduled to meet Biden in London on Sunday for a courtesy meeting on the sidelines of the Queen’s state funeral. This was delayed so that full-fledged bilateral negotiations could take place in New York.
While the president has paid tribute to Elizabeth II, his administration is concerned that the prime minister who bears her name is threatening to lift trade rules for Northern Ireland after Brexit.
Truss also ruffled Canal when she said last month in a campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party that “juries don’t know” whether Macron was Britain’s “friend or foe”.
By contrast, the French president came to London for a state funeral to highlight the “unbreakable” bond between France and the UK, aides said.
Like Macron, Truss is due to meet EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in New York as Brussels sues London over its Brexit plans.
The prime minister’s schedule includes meetings with the leaders of Japan, Israel, Spain and Turkey as part of her diplomatic bow, as she had already interacted with several Commonwealth colleagues ahead of the funeral.