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‘The Iron Weathercock’: World reacts to Truss win

News Sep 6, 2022 at 09:37

Liz Truss with the US's top diplomat Antony Blinken at a G7 meeting in December 2021

Global leaders have been sending their congratulations to Liz Truss – but in the international media, there have been snarkier remarks, too.

“She has gone to see the Queen,” said Russian television presenter Ivan Trushkin. “If she [the Queen] recognises her of course.”

In France, meanwhile, she has been branded not the Iron Lady – which was former UK PM Margaret Thatcher’s nickname – but the Iron Weathercock.

This is a reference to Ms Truss’s changing views on the UK leaving the European Union – she went from opponent before the 2016 referendum, to supporter afterwards, saying in July that “some of the portents of doom didn’t happen”. It’s believed the term was first coined in Les Echos in July – but has since caught on among some commentators.

Like Les Echos, Italy’s Corriere della Sera compared Truss to Thatcher – but described the new leader’s speeches as more “robotic”.

The first leader to congratulate publicly Ms Truss was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

A weathercock, or weathervane, pictured in London

A weathercock, or weathervane, pictured in London

Warm words also came from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – but not without an apparent reference to the Brexit-related Northern Ireland protocol.

“I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements,” she said in a tweet.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished Liz Truss the “very best”, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki said he was “very, very pleased” by her commitment to Ukraine, and the Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he looked forward to working with Britain’s new PM.

As expected, the reaction from Russia has been more negative, with presenters on Gazprom-owned NTV describing Truss’s election as a “catastrophe” for the UK.

Russia’s foreign ministry, which has previously been highly dismissive of Liz Truss, is yet to react formally to the news. When it does – don’t expect much love lost.

In February, Moscow’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov compared meeting her with “a conversation between someone deaf and someone who is mute.”

However, Ms Truss’s win was welcomed by some in Russia. Leonid Volkov, chief of staff for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said it was “excellent news”.

“In the Kremlin they were cracking open the champagne when Johnson resigned, but there are no grounds for supposing that Truss will be a softer touch,” he wrote on Twitter (in Russian).

China is also yet to officially respond to the news – but prominent Chinese journalists offered a similarly pessimistic view of the UK’s future under Truss.

“Truss will likely be one of Britain’s most mediocre prime ministers,” tweeted Hu Xijin, a commentator for the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated Global Times.

“Truss has the will to be Britain’s “new iron lady”, but she may not have Thatcher’s fate.”