Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s U.S. Visit Caps His Recent Efforts to Restore Britain’s Standing at Home and Abroad
- Last month, when he completed his first 100 days in office, he was already applauded for his calm and steady approach to governing.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be arriving in the United States on his first visit since moving into 10 Downing Street. He is expected to join President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for a trilateral summit in San Diego on Monday, March 13. He will not be stopping by in Washington, D.C. This will be the first meeting for all three as leaders of the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, and United States security arrangement formed in 2021). Top on the agenda is finalizing the details of a submarine pact aimed at countering China.
For Prime Minister Sunak, the visit will cap a flurry of recent diplomatic initiatives which included a momentous visit earlier this week to France for a bilateral meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, the first such meeting since Britain exited the European Union and heralded as a “new beginning to post-Brexit era.”
Although it is way too early to conclude that Sunak has managed to extricate British politics, economy and foreign policy from the turbulent post-Brexit, post-Boris Johnson years, there is no doubt that he has been a steady hand at the helm addressing head-on the pressing issues ranging from Northern Ireland-EU impasse, reorienting relations with European Union, the Ukraine war and of course relations with the United States.
To his credit, Sunak has been successful in striking a deal with the European Union that is expected to bring about a new trading arrangement following years of wrangling, particularly over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The new framework is also expected to find favor in Washington and smoothen President Biden’s planned visit to Belfast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement in April.
Sunak’s U.S. visit may not have the pomp and circumstance of a State visit but it will go a long way to stop the bleeding of his conservative party’s reputation as he restores Britain’s standing in the world.
Last month, when he completed his first 100 days in office, he was already applauded for his calm and steady approach to governing. This a marked departure from the style of both Prime Minister Johnson and his immediate successor, the short-lived Liz Truss. One of Sunak’s cabinet members was even quoted proudly boasting that “boring is back.”
Another critic noted “Sunak’s tenure as prime minister has offered respite from the soap opera scandals,” and that “Sunak does seem to have overhauled the workings of the center of government and put it back on an even keel after the rollercoaster ride of Liz Truss’s premiership and the chaos of the end of Johnson’s.”
This is not to suggest that he had it easy. Sunak faced a series of challenges, including his appointment of the very unpopular Suella Braverman as Home Secretary (of Indian origin like himself), crippling strikes in the health sector, inflation and continued scandals in his Tory party. In the words of a critic, “Sunak has also struggled to keep his ducks in a row.”
But there is no denying that Sunak has managed to weather them, at least from now, with the “integrity, professionalism, and accountability” that he promised when he took office. As the Independent newspaper put it, he “may not succeed, but he is trying to do the right things.”