Liz Truss is enthusiastic. For two years now, as British Secretary of State for International Trade, she has struggled to promote the concept of “Global Britain”, the diplomatic strategy that the government is trying to impose. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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In a few hours, Wednesday September 15, Liz Truss rose through the ranks, leaving his portfolio to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, replacing Dominic Raab. In the evening, his country unveiled its new strategic partnership with the United States and Australia, named AUKUS. Confirmation, in his eyes, that “World Great Britain plants its flag on the world stage”, as she wrote in a column published on Sunday, September 19 in The Telegraph.
A double snub for France
Words that are unlikely to improve his relationship with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Asked Saturday, September 18 on France 2, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs did not try to hold back his blows by evoking his British neighbors and their participation in the strategic partnership. “We know their permanent opportunism, he blurted out, justifying himself for not having recalled the French ambassador to the United Kingdom. In addition, Great Britain in this case is still a bit the fifth wheel of the coach.. “
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The Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, does not say anything else when he develops that “Our British friends explained to us that they were leaving the EU to create ‘Global Britain’. We can see that this is a return to the American fold and a form of accepted vassalization. “
The spikes of French diplomacy vis-à-vis London are up to this other snub – in addition to the contract on submarines broken by Australia – received last week. Paris, until then, ensured that, despite Brexit, London remained its closest military partner. “I would not be surprised if France now reduced the scope of its cooperation with the United Kingdom“, comments Rudolf G. Adam, a former German diplomat living in London, author, in particular, of Brexit, causes and consequences. “It’s all a double-edged sword, nevertheless recalls this specialist. Europe needs the British to acquire strategic autonomy. “
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In practice, however, London is really looking to turn to other partners. A week ago, Liz Truss began virtual discussions to allow the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement that brings together, since 2019, eleven countries from the America-Asia-Oceania region. In his eyes, the AUKUS partnership responds to the same strategic vision, illustrating London’s desire to join forces “To like-minded countries to create coalitions based on shared values and interests”.
A price to pay
Determined to move away politically from the EU, the Brexiters in power in London are seeking to restore the United Kingdom to a credible power on the international scene, even if it means unflinchingly following American wishes. With drawbacks, as during the accelerated flight of the Americans from Afghanistan. This would have surprised the British government, which had not started the repatriation of its citizens and its Afghan allies.
London seems ready to pay this price for the moment. In exchange of what ? For Liz Truss, the new strategic partnership revealed on September 15 “Is more than abstract foreign policy, it is serving citizens across the UK”. As proof of London’s resolve to force the hand of its partners, the British government awarded, Friday, September 17, a contract of 100 million euros to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to provide the design and concept of the next generation British nuclear submarines. In the idea of recovering part of the contracts intended for Paris? In any case, probably not a coincidence.