Truss could shape Macron’s European club to advance UK interests

Truss: ’No danger of joining EU’ says Usherwood

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Liz Truss has been tipped to use Emmanuel Macron’s new European alliance to Britain’s advantage. Six years after the Brexit vote, the Prime Minister will be attending the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) in Prague on Thursday. The EPC is a new body linking the 27 European Union member states with would-be members and several other states like the United Kingdom and Norway, which aims to tackle the continent’s common challenges like migration, security and energy. Though the EPC’s name might suggest a path to joining the EU, the Prime Minister will instead use it to advance Britain’s foreign interests, said Simon Usherwood, political scientist from the Open University.

When asked if Tory MPs could see Liz Truss’ participation to the summit as a Brexit betrayal, Simon Usherwood told “They want to keep that very much separate.

“They want to have a very different set of topics. I think the formal programme of this EPC is going to be very much bigger picture. 

“So, I think for Truss, there isn’t that danger of being seen to be in a meeting that is for people who want to rejoin the EU – it’s really not going to be the case.”

“And it’d be very hard to portray it in that kind of way.”

Turning to why Liz Truss would want to join the EPC after Brexit, Dr Usherwood said the Prime Minister could shape it to her ambitions and advance the UK’s interests.

“The consistent line from successive Prime Ministers from Theresa May onwards has been that the UK is leaving the European Union, not Europe. 

“And so, here we’ve got something that has no formal attachment to the European Union even though it comes from one of the EU’s big political figures.”

“Here really is an alternative view of how European cooperation could be. If Liz Truss is feeling bold and confident, she might want and try to shape it this body some more. 

“She’s talked about changing the name to a forum. And you could imagine this becomes a useful space for people to share problems, share ideas in a format that is much more relaxed and without the obligations that come with EU membership.”

Dr Usherwood also emphasised the new European platform will not serve to fix the Brexit pending issues like the Northern Ireland Protocol and will allow Liz Truss to discuss with European counterparts without Brexit getting in the way.

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In an unforeseen move, the Prime Minister, who has expressed scepticism around European projects in the past, reportedly said she would take part in the EPC and also offered to host the next summit in London. 

The idea of the club, revived by French President Emmanuel Macron, will include EU leaders, candidate countries such as Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Turkey, and neighbours that do not want to join the bloc, such as Norway, Switzerland and Britain.

While Liz Truss reportedly said she is keen to take parts in discussions around migration and energy seecurity, she remains skeptical of the need for another international forum.

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