The crisis of the Government of Boris Johnson adds even more doubts to the future of Brexit | International

The British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, interviewed on December 16 in Madrid by EL PAÍS.
The British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, interviewed on December 16 in Madrid by EL PAÍS.ALEX ONCIU

Boris Johnson already demonstrated in his day that when it comes to Brexit, the appearance of victory is more important than what has actually been won. Handing over the negotiations with the EU to his Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, may be a way to defuse the conflict with Brussels without seeming to surrender.

The resignation of David Frost, until now a staunch ally of Johnson, has in principle been an almost coup de grace to a prime minister who lives his lowest hours. The reasons outlined in his farewell letter – tax hikes or new restrictions against the omicron variant – are actually a disguised reproach to a Johnson who has been unable to realize the eurosceptics’ vision of the post-Brexit UK neoliberal. “I remain absolutely confident that this country has a great future under the leadership of Boris Johnson … as long as we get the political decisions right,” Frost told the media on Monday at his doorstep.

Truss did not support Brexit from the beginning. In the 2016 referendum, he campaigned for remaining in the EU. It was later, in the face of the unexpected force of Eurosceptic victory, that he fell from his horse and embraced the cause. Its natural irony and spark – and its continual attacks on so-called culture woke or identity politics of the British left – have made it a favorite of conservatives. The website ConservativeHome, essential to know at all times what is cooking between the tories, He has held it for a year as the best asset for a possible Johnson succession.

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The British Prime Minister appointed her Minister for International Trade in July 2019, and since then she has devoted herself to two tasks. In the first place, it ratified and extended more than 60 trade agreements that the United Kingdom had with different countries, and launched some new ones such as those of Japan, Australia or New Zealand. It thus managed to give the impression that the doors of the world were opening for a United Kingdom outside the EU (although none of those treaties covered more than a small part of what was lost with Brexit).

Second, he took it upon himself to successfully promote his political career on social media. In September 2021, after the fiasco of the withdrawal from Afghanistan managed by her predecessor, Dominic Raab, Truss was appointed foreign minister. “The competent Liz Truss now has the tools of the most powerful Foreign Ministry in many decades (foreign policy, trade policy with the most important markets and development cooperation). All under a single responsibility for the first time (and with a prime minister concerned about other things …) ”, wrote on Twitter George Osborne, former Minister of Economy and powerful number two of David Cameron, the Conservative Prime Minister who called the Brexit referendum.

What Truss really thinks, and what are his intentions on how to separate the UK from the EU, is a mystery to Brussels and to all EU capitals. On the one hand, he has the backing of Eurosceptics. But unlike Frost – who in recent months contaminated the dialogue with the EU with an almost pseudo-imperialist fanaticism and a certain aroma of vendetta The Foreign Minister has conveyed an optimistic and conciliatory vision of the new Global Britain (Global Britain) pursued by its boss Johnson for this new era.

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“After almost 50 years within the European Union, we once again have in our hands all the levers of international policy: diplomatic, development aid, trade and security”, Truss summarized his political vision in a speech, on December 8, at the prestigious Chatham House think tank in London. “As an outward-looking sovereign nation, we are building our muscles to deliver on that promise of a global Britain,” he said.

If history is doomed to repeat itself, Truss could do as Johnson did in July 2018. The current prime minister then resigned as Foreign Minister in protest at the inaction on Brexit of his boss at the time, Theresa May. Johnson accused his rival of thwarting the wish expressed by a majority of Britons in the 2016 referendum, and in the process secured his future election as the new leader of the Conservative Party. It could also bring the dose of pragmatism and common sense necessary to avoid a trade war with the EU that Johnson cannot afford right now.

That such an experienced department, and with rigorous officials, as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office takes on the most sensitive and important issue of foreign policy – that is, Brexit – reassures many observers to the they didn’t like that he was in the sole hands of a lone wolf like Frost. Ultimately, the phone conversation a senior official had with European correspondents in London two weeks ago, anticipating a looser turn by the British government in the negotiations around Northern Ireland, was called by Foreign Affairs. And Frost had to come to the fore hours later to deny that the Government had given up on demanding that the Court of Justice of the EU be the supervisor of the application of the rules of the EU internal market in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that, a little later, it was confirmed that this movement was true.

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“I have had the opportunity to work with Liz [Truss] in agricultural matters, and more recently, in matters of international politics. I look forward to starting working with her now around Brexit. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is possible to move forward into the new year, ”said Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister and one of the first to be optimistic about Truss’s new role.

A shadow, however, hangs over this optimistic voluntarism. As Secretary of State for Europe, and number two of Truss on this matter, Chris Heaton-Harris has been appointed. The former British MP, and in his day already Deputy Minister for Exiting the EU, was in the direction of the European Research Group, the eurosceptic parliamentary current in favor of a hard Brexit, and ended up being investigated by the Westminster Ethical Standards Commission when it became known of their meeting, in March 2019, in parliamentary offices, with a Vox delegation headed by deputy Iván Espinosa de los Monteros.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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