Experts say new British Prime Minister Liz Truss will not be ‘afraid of getting into a fight’ with Biden
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New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss is likely to take a more aggressive approach to British foreign policy – including with the US – at a time of major geopolitical upheaval, experts told Fox News Digital.
Truss, a seasoned Conservative Party official who is currently the foreign secretary, is expected to take a hard line on both Russia and China. She is also expected to underscore the special relationship between the UK and the US, as did her predecessor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
But amid transatlantic tensions over trade and Brexit issues, Truss may be willing to respond more forcefully against the United States and President Biden on some issues.
“I don’t think she would be afraid to get into a fight with Joe Biden over important areas of the British national interest. She would stand up to the US president when necessary,” Neil Gardiner, a former adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told Fox News Digital. Gardiner now works for the Preservation Heritage Foundation.
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“Liz Truss is an assertive and feisty person,” John Kampfner, UK executive director of the global initiative of British think tank Chatham House, told Fox News Digital. “A fervent ideologist, she praises Margaret Thatcher, both in terms of her domestic policy and her foreign policy.”
Perhaps the most famous split between Truss and Biden is over Brexit and the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which was negotiated with the European Union as part of Brexit. The agreement effectively leaves Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the EU’s single market, along with its neighbour, the Republic of Ireland, an independent country.
UK leaders want to renegotiate the deal because, they say, it undermines Northern Ireland’s standing within the UK, but EU leaders – some in Washington – oppose such a move, arguing that it risks undermining more than two decades of peace between Ireland and Northern Ireland .
Kampfner said Truss had made her position on the Northern Ireland protocol clear – and would be at fundamental odds with Biden.
“It will antagonize the Biden administration in its approach to Northern Ireland and Europe,” Kampfner said of Truss.
“The White House has not been very cooperative on Northern Ireland, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made several threats to Great Britain regarding the sinking of a US-UK trade deal over the Northern Ireland issue.” Gardiner said. “I expect Liz Truss to be more assertive in her dealings with Joe Biden than Boris Johnson.”
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Another area of potential contention between Truss and Biden is the administration’s efforts to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.
Biden was vice president when the United States agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with several other countries, including the United Kingdom, which aims to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions while easing sanctions on the rogue state. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal after taking office, and reimposed sanctions. The Biden administration has prioritized a new deal since taking office.
Truss has not yet taken a firm position on resuming negotiations. But Gardiner said some in Truss’s Conservative Party were critical of the idea of negotiations, raising “the possibility that you will see a break from where the United States is at the moment”.
Meanwhile, Kampfner predicted that Truss would seek flexibility on the Iran issue to avoid stirring up divisions with the United States on more fronts than it needs to.
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Kampfner said China may also be an area of separation between the Truss and the Biden administration, despite the fact that both countries are moving toward more hawkish positions in the Asian country.
“It’s very tough with China,” Kampfner said. “Britain has described China as a ‘systematic rival’. They want to call it an ‘acute threat’, which is a fine move. Does this go too far for the Biden administration?”
“Under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May, the UK has sought to build stronger economic ties with China,” Gardiner said. “And this in the case of Chinese telecoms companies, like Huawei for example, threatens national security. So Liz Truss is in favor of a more aggressive approach to China.”
Truss’ hardening is also extending to Russia and beyond, according to Kapfner, who said the new prime minister seeks to change the way international organizations do business in the 21st century. Whether that was successful, he said, is not yet clear.
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“She portrays herself as a master of turmoil in a fractured world…She sees all these multinational institutions, and she sees them as stuck, atrophied, or bankrupt,” Kampfner said. “It’s marketing itself sort of like what Uber did in transportation, and it wants to do it for public diplomacy.”
He added, “It sounds interesting. Whether you can do that or not when you need to invest long-term in partnerships and relationships, and when you’re a medium-sized country…I think it’s going to end with a softening…a very radical attitude.”