Confronting Russia and China has become the main talking point as Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss try to ‘out-hawk’ each other
By Timur FomenkoAn analyst in politics
During the upcoming televised debate, British Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Boris Johnson’s government, is expected to promise resolute action against China, which he accuses of “being the biggest long-term threat to the UK.”
Claiming that Beijing is now “infiltrating our universities” and “Our technology is being stolen” racist scaremongering talking points which originated from the Trump administration, Sunak will call for strengthening NATO cooperation against China and will pledge to close all 30 Confucius institutes in the country (which teach Chinese language but have been frequently and baselessly accused of espionage and political interference).
To most Tory hawks, however, Sunak’s rhetoric isn’t convincing. In fact, he only recently pledged to strengthen business relations between China (and the UK) in January. This is because he wants to lead the party, and appeal to the right-wing populist base that overwhelmingly supports Liz Truss. Truss is very much a model after Margaret Thatcher. As the first ever ethnic minority candidate for Conservative leadership, it isn’t rocket science to see why he is at a disadvantage in such circumstances, a sad but uncomfortable truth.
With Sunak’s previous positions on China also being fairly reasonable, this has also quickly turned into a line of attack against him by the right-wing press, with the Daily Mail recently claiming he was supported by China’s Global Times, which, it said, was “the endorsement nobody wanted.”
However, nobody would seriously think that Sunak is going to ‘out-hawk’ Truss, who has been fanatical in her confrontational approach to diplomacy against both China and Russia, and her zealous obsession with democracy – or rather, the rhetoric construct of “democracy”Western leaders often use it as a rallying call.
It is a terrible news story for Britain in general, but it will not be widely known. Despite talk of “Global Britain” and “Free trade” whoever should succeed Boris Johnson (and it will probably be Truss) will put Britain on a collision course with the world’s second-largest economy, the largest in terms of imports and exports, despite the lingering impacts of Brexit, and of course whilst simultaneously pursuing an aggressive proxy war in Ukraine, where Truss wants nothing less than the defeat of the Russian state. You might wonder what is wrong with British foreign policies. How could this be possible, given all of the above and Brexit? This is a clear example of the madness that has taken hold of politics in light of Brexit.
The modern Britain of today has been aggressive, arrogant, and unrepentant about its imperial heritage at all times. Attributing Brexit as the starting point of such unbridled chauvinism might lead one to forget about the destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, and of course Britain’s continuing toadyism to American foreign-policy preferences and clear lack of independence in its own direction. On paper, the United Kingdom was involved in each US-led war since World War II. The sole exception was Vietnam, thanks to Harold Wilson, a Labour Prime Minister who truly defined the “Swinging Sixties” in Britain and refused to assist. He was an exception.
Thus, whilst it was always there, Brexit has manifested itself as probably the highest and most chauvinistic form of Anglophone exceptionalism and ideological elitism yet, specifically because it has suffocated the post-war debate concerning Britain’s post-imperial identity and the bid to be part of Europe. Instead of learning from the past it has intensified its efforts to do so. It is now allied with extreme neoconservatism to further subjugate the United States, wage aggression against specific countries in the name British civilization. In the name of populism, all pragmatism and any sense of balance or humility that would have been able to restrain Conservative politicians has vanished.
Now we’re at the stage where an Indian-origin British politician feels he can solicit political gain for himself by weaponizing fear, hate and scaremongering against Chinese people, betraying the diverse and open country where his parents settled and which allowed him to become so successful. It’s a sad state of affairs. This aggressive pursuit of destroying bridges and engaging in geopolitical combat will undoubtedly add to the British economy’s woes. While of course, Liz Truss looks to be an almost inevitable victor, the fact someone like her is in this position speaks volumes about not her ascent, but about Britain’s descent. Boris Johnson, who was not only incompetent personally but was also politically restrained according to the standards set by others, was a bad example of what was coming. On multiple fronts, we’re going to see the UK now take the deep turn of right-wing regression the US has been experiencing.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.