Liz Truss has used her Conservative party conference speech to vow that “Britain’s best days lie ahead” as she plots out a new “network of liberty” to hit back against authoritarian foes.
The foreign secretary said she wanted to create a series of new security alliances – similar to the recently signed Australia, UK and US Aukus pact – to strengthen the west against “malign actors”.
Her barbs will be seen as a direct attack on China, just weeks after the Aukus pact was signed in a bid to provide a bulwark against Beijing’s growing influence in the Indo Pacific.
“The democratic world order faces a stark choice. Either we retreat and retrench in the face of malign actors … or we club together and advance the cause of freedom,” Truss said.
“We need to rise to meet this moment.”
She said this would be done by strengthening the UK’s security ties with the G7, Nato and other liberal democracies like Australia, Japan, Mexico, Israel and South Korea.
She said it would be her mission as foreign secretary to promote the rules based international order and ensure “global technology standards [are] shaped by the free world”.
“We will build coalitions of the willing to advance these causes. We will also be tough on those who don’t share our values and don’t play by the rules,” he said.
“It is important we trade with China, but we must make sure it is reliable trade…that it avoids strategic dependency…and that it does not involve the violation of intellectual property rights or forced technology transfer.”
Truss also channeled her idol Margaret Thatcher in her speech by quoting her 1989 Mansino House speech after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
She said: “As Mrs Thatcher said in her Guildhall speech just days after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989: ‘The message is clear…when people are free to choose, they choose freedom’.
“And we need to give countries across the world that choice.
“The freer a country is the wealthier it is…the more secure it is…the greener it is.”