U.K.'s new PM Liz Truss vows billions in Ukraine aid

Ahead of her first meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Liz Truss also conceded that a post-Brexit U.K.-U.S. trade deal was unlikely for years

September 20, 2022 08:51 pm | Updated September 21, 2022 06:27 pm IST - London:

British Prime Minister Liz Truss smiles as she speaks to the media at the Empire State building in New York, U.S.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss smiles as she speaks to the media at the Empire State building in New York, U.S. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Britain's new Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday vowed billions more in financial and military aid to Ukraine as she kicked off her debut foreign trip at the U.N. General Assembly.

Ahead of her first meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Ms. Truss also conceded that a post-Brexit U.K.-U.S. trade deal was unlikely for years.

"There aren't currently any negotiations taking place with the U.S. and I don't have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term," she told reporters en route to New York.

At the UN, Ms. Truss is also due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. Like Mr. Biden's White House, they are unhappy with her hard line on Brexit and Northern Ireland.

But Ms. Truss vowed to rally Western support at the U.N. over Ukraine, saying her government would match or exceed the £2.3 billion ($2.6 billion) it plans to extend this year.

"Ukraine's victories in recent weeks have been inspirational," she said in a statement, after Kyiv's forces pushed the Russian invaders out of almost all of the Kharkiv region in a lightning counter-offensive.

"My message to the people of Ukraine is this: the U.K. will continue to be right behind you every step of the way. Your security is our security."

Boris Johnson's successor flew out of London hours after delivering a biblical reading at Monday's funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, as government mourning ends and U.K. political life resumes in full speed.

The late monarch appointed Ms. Truss as her 15th Prime Minister on September 6, in one of her final ceremonial acts as head of state. She died two days later.

Ms. Truss said she was "hugely honoured" to be appointed, and praised the "huge outpouring of love and affection" shown towards Elizabeth, as well as the "huge amount of warmth towards" her successor King Charles III.

But Charles's new reign, and Ms. Truss's administration, start under a darkening economic cloud due to a cost-of-living crisis brought on by Russia's war in Ukraine that is hurting millions at home.

She is due back in London on Thursday, a day before Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng delivers an emergency budget statement after the government vowed a costly scheme to cap rocketing energy bills.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan denied that the financial crisis could force a re-think of the U.K.'s aid to Ukraine.

"We are not re-evaluating our support in the Ukraine, we are doubling down on our support in the Ukraine," she told Sky News.

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