Truss set to challenge Xi and Sunak as she plots major China speech

Former PM Liz Truss makes her case for growth

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Liz Truss will be the star turn at a major conference in Tokyo next week when she will be one of three former Prime Ministers to address the growing threat of China. The appearance next Friday (February 17) will be the latest leg of her comeback since being deposed as Prime Minister last October and is expected to put further pressure on Rishi Sunak over government policy.

The appearance comes after Ms Truss relaunched her political pressure for a high growth, low tax economic policy in what was seen as a direct challenge to the tax rises brought in by Mr Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

But this time Ms Truss will be focussing on foreign policy with concerns growing in the UK and its western allies that efforts to counter the threat from China have been too weak.

The former Prime Minister will join two other ex-Premiers including Scott Morrison of Australia and Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium, who for once will be agreeing with Ms Truss on a tougher foreign policy stance after his clashes with Britain over Brexit.

The three will be speakers at the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC)’s symposium in Tokyo.

IPAC was set up by former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith in a bid to reshape western policy to counter the Chinese threat.

According to the notes, Ms Truss will address “growing concerns” over China potentially invading Taiwan and “the impact on an open and free Indo-Pacific” region.

A source close to Ms Truss noted the significance of the event in her comeback.

He said: “This is obviously her first overseas public appearance post-premiership.”

Ms Truss has been a guest for private events in Washington DC earlier this year but she has only recently started making public interventions again since her brutal removal in a coup by Conservative MPs last Autumn after a mere 49 days in office.

This latest intervention means that Ms Truss will join her predecessor Boris Johnson in pushing Rishi Sunak into taking a more hawkish approach to foreign policy.

Mr Johnson was this week, for the second time in a fortnight, critical of Mr Sunak’s refusal to provide fast fighter jets to Ukraine in the war against the Russian invasion.

The manouevres by the two former Prime Ministers, both deposed last year, has been seen by Conservative MPs as part of a strategy to undermine Mr Sunak’s own position as he faces a 21 point deficit to Labour in the polls.

The conference aims to bring together western allies from the UK, EU, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan.

Among the threats from Beijing being discussed will be economic coercion, the continued peril faced by Taiwan, domestic rights abuses in China itself including recently in Hong Kong, and malign influences by President Xi’s regime abroad, particularly with the Belt Road strategy in Africa.

Mr Morrison will address the conference on targeted sanctions on China while Mr Verhofstadt will discuss how the EU can adopt a more robust policy.

Ahead of the conference, Mr Verhofstadt said: “I am delighted to be joining IPAC in Japan with other Prime Ministers from across the political map.

“The scale of the challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is such that we all need to rise above our differences and come together to defend our fundamental values and interests.”


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