The UK cannot strengthen Nato while waging a trade war with the EU

Liz Truss wants G7 and Nato countries to wage economic war, through sanctions, against countries like Russia, and potentially China, which flout the international rules-based order. In an important speech this week outlining her vision, the foreign secretary said “we need a global Nato” to tackle global threats, including in the Indo-Pacific. She argued the G7 should “act as an economic Nato” by defending a partner targeted by an aggressor, in line with Nato’s “all for one and one for all” principle.

It’s an ambitious idea for the new geopolitical era that began when Russia invaded Ukraine. Yet the government’s approach is full of contradictions. Boris Johnson is about to risk an economic war with the EU by suspending key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol on goods going from Great Britain to the province. Legislation allowing the government to override it will be included in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May. 

This would be counterproductive on several fronts. The UK can hardly tell other countries to “play by the rules,” as Truss did in her speech, if Johnson rips up an international agreement he signed. That is precisely how the plan will be viewed around the world, and closer to home in the House of Lords, where the Bill will meet strong opposition.