An American diplomat has described Tory frontrunner Liz Truss’s image at the White House as a “loyalist” of Boris Johnson and as someone who will be the extension of his government, a US media report says.
Ms Truss, who has maintained a commanding lead over opponent Rishi Sunak to succeed Mr Johnson at No 10, has a mixed number of admirers and critics at home too.
But a recent report from Politico magazine quoting several people from the White House, Congress and federal agencies in the US points to what it calls a “branding problem” for Ms Truss.
While the foreign secretary may not carry as much baggage as Mr Johnson in the eyes of US officials, many still see her as an extension of his government.
One unnamed US diplomat familiar with the Britain file was quoted describing Ms Truss as a “Boris loyalist” who is “likely to continue the policies and tone of Johnson’s government”.
However, the diplomat said the relationship between the US and UK is “unlikely to change”.
While both countries have a long history of trade and cooperation and the leadership campaign in the UK has so far been dominated by pressing domestic issues like soaring energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis, the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol will have some bearing on foreign relations as well.
The diplomat quoted by Politico predicted “the issue of how a Truss government approaches the protocol will be the first major test of relations”.
Ms Truss has set out a plan to rework aspects of the NI protocol – a contentious treaty that avoided a hard border on Ireland by creating a border in the Irish Sea, something that has prompted backlash from the EU, Labour and even some Tory backbenchers.
Earlier, a report by The Guardian quoted one EU diplomat saying there was nothing to suggest Ms Truss would abandon the approach she has pursued as foreign secretary.
“If the UK government follows through with the plan already set out, I think it’s fair to say relations will get worse,” the diplomat said.