G20: Theresa May navigates changing UK role on international stage

Teresa May Image copyright Getty Images

As first days go at an international school, the G20 passed off alright for the new pupil.

Theresa May met all the right people, the language differences did not trouble her and she refused to allow the big boys to bully her behind the bike sheds. The prime minister held her own.

At the end of the two days, she had managed to speak to almost all the world leaders at the summit. They were interested because she was an unknown quantity and that rare beast, a European leader who is likely to be around for a while.

They were also keen to hear what she said about Brexit. She assured them that Britain was open for business and said she had had "pleasing and useful" discussions about future trade deals, in particular with India, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore and Australia.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mrs May avoided a row with Chinese leader Xi Jinping by promising a decision on Hinkley Point within a month

She floated a few ideas of her own: the need for G20 countries to do more to stop foreign fighters dispersing to new failed states once they were squeezed out of Libya, Iraq and Syria; and the need for G20 countries to ensure that the global economy spreads wealth more fairly, an issue the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, called "civilising capitalism".

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G20: Is Theresa May changing the language of Brexit?

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

George Orwell said that political language consists largely of "euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness".

The same could be said about the post-referendum debate. The phrase "Brexit means Brexit" has seen the government through the summer, but has now reached the end of its usefulness.

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G20: Questions for Theresa May over UK's global role

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

When Theresa May steps on to the global stage for the first time this weekend at the G20 summit in China, she will be hoping not to repeat what happened the last time a female British prime minister attended an international conference.

In November 1990, Margaret Thatcher went to Paris for a summit on European security. In her absence, her opponents got their act together and within days she was out of power.

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An extraordinary first week for Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson before his meeting at the United Nations Image copyright EPA
Image caption Boris Johnson before his meeting at the United Nations' headquarters in New York

Boris Johnson has had an extraordinary first week in office.

The UK's new foreign secretary had hardly finished a tour of his King Charles Street office before he was forced to deal with the attempted coup in Turkey.

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Boris Johnson: Super ambassador?

Boris Johnson Image copyright AFP

Boris Johnson is not the first foreign secretary to be booed.

Lord Castlereagh, architect of the post-Napoleonic European order, was jeered in 1822 as he lay dead in his coffin, the crowd outside his Westminster Abbey funeral showing their anger at his domestic repression, not his diplomatic renown.

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Brexit: Foreign secretary says UK must 'pedal faster'

The union flag flying next to a row of EU flags Image copyright EPA

Gathered this week in the august grandeur of the Locarno rooms at the Foreign Office were more than 200 of Britain's most senior diplomats.

They had come together from all corners of the world not for a post-Brexit panic, but for their annual knees-up - otherwise known as "the leadership conference".

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Tory leadership choice will define UK-EU relationship

Theresa May Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mrs May's stance on free movement appears to vary from other leadership contenders

Put aside for a moment the Shakespearian psychodrama of the Tory leadership contest.

For a key difference has opened up between the contenders that could have a huge impact on Britain's future relationship with the EU after Brexit.

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Could UK be forced into quick EU exit?

Lisbon Treaty Article 50 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lawyers are studying Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

We have voted to leave the EU but when will we actually start negotiating our exit?

There is lots to discuss with our EU colleagues: what to do with half-used EU budgets and EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. There is also, of course, the thorny issue of Britain's future trading relationship with the EU once we leave.

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Jo Cox killing is an assault on democracy

Tributes to Jo Cox in Parliament Square Image copyright Getty Images

There are moments at Westminster when time stands still, when the noise of the latest campaign or election is hushed, when this vast political village stops and catches its breath.

So it was this afternoon as news came through that Jo Cox had been attacked.

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Little Englander? Not in Thatcher's world

  • 8 June 2016
  • From the section World
Lady Thatcher

David Cameron's riff about wanting to see "a strong Britain in Europe" rather than "Nigel Farage's little England" reminds me of a Conservative Party conference in the late 1990s.

We were in Blackpool and conference-goers would cluster in a small handful of restaurants.

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