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New United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss is likely to take a more forceful approach to British foreign policy — including with the U.S. — at a time of major geopolitical upheaval, experts tell Fox News Digital.
Truss, an experienced Conservative Party official who’s currently the foreign secretary, is expected to bring a hawkish stance on both Russia and China. She’s also expected to emphasize the special relationship between the U.K. and the United States, as her predecessor Prime Minister Boris Johnson did.
But amid tension across the Atlantic over trade and Brexit issues, Truss might be willing to push back harder against the U.S. and President Biden on some issues.
“I don’t think she’s going to be afraid of picking a fight with Joe Biden over crucial areas of British national interest. She will stand up to the U.S. president where necessary,” Nile Gardiner, a former adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told Fox News Digital. Gardiner now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation.
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“Liz Truss is a determined, feisty figure,” John Kampfner, the executive director of the U.K. in the World Initiative for the British think tank Chatham House, told Fox News Digital. “She’s an ardent ideologue, she heaps praise on Margaret Thatcher, both in terms of her domestic policy and foreign policy.”
The most high profile split between Truss and Biden could be on Brexit and what’s known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was negotiated with the European Union as part of Brexit. The agreement effectively leaves Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, in the European Union’s single market, along with its neighbor the Republic of Ireland, an independent country.
U.K. leaders want to renegotiate this deal because, they say, it erodes the standing of Northern Ireland within the U.K. But European Union leaders — and some in Washington — oppose such a move, arguing it could risk undermining more than two decades of peace between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Kampfner said Truss has made very clear where she stands on the Northern Ireland Protocol — and will be fundamentally at odds with Biden.
“She will antagonize the Biden administration in her approach to Northern Ireland and Europe,” Kampfner said of Truss.
“The White House has been very unhelpful over Northern Ireland, and Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, has made several threats to Great Britain in terms of sinking a U.S-U.K trade deal because of the Northern Ireland issue.” Gardiner said. “I expect that Liz Truss is going to be more assertive in her dealings with Joe Biden than Boris Johnson.”
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Another area of potential dissent between Truss and Biden could be the U.S. administration’s efforts to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.
Biden was the vice president when the U.S. agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with several other countries, including the U.K., aimed at limiting Iranian nuclear ambitions while easing sanctions on the rogue state. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal after taking office, reinstating sanctions. And Biden’s administration has made a new deal a priority since taking office.
Truss hasn’t yet taken a firm stance on renewed negotiations. But some in Truss’ Conservative Party are sour on the idea of the negotiations, Gardiner said, raising “the possibility that you see a break from where the U.S. is at the moment.”
Kampfner, meanwhile, predicted that Truss may seek flexibility on the Iran issue to avoid stoking divisions with the U.S. on more fronts than she needs to.
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China could also be an area of disconnect between Truss and the Biden administration, Kampfner said, despite the fact both countries are moving toward more hawkish stances on the Asian nation.
“She is very tough on China,” Kampfner said. “Britain called China a ‘systemic competitor.’ And she wants to call it an ‘acute threat,’ which is quite some step. Does that go too far for the Biden administration?”
“Under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, the U.K sought to build stronger economic relationships with China,” Gardiner said. “Which in the case of Chinese telecommunications companies, such as Huawei for example, threatened national security. So Liz Truss is in favor of a much more robust approach toward China.”
Truss’ hawkishness also extends to Russia and beyond, according to Kampfner, who said the new prime minister seeks to shake up the way international organizations do business in the 21st century. Whether that is successful, he said, remains to be seen.
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“She is portraying herself as a disrupter in chief in a disrupted world. … She sees all these multinational institutions, and she considers them to be stuck or to be atrophied or to be bust,” Kampfner said. “She’s kind of marketing herself as what Uber did to transportation, she wants to do for public diplomacy.”
He added: “It sounds interesting. Whether or not you can do that when you need to invest long term in partnerships, and relationships, and when you’re a medium-sized country… I think she will end up by tempering… her really quite ultra-radical stance.”