UK to spend at least £2.3bn on Ukraine war effort in 202


Liz Truss will this week tell world leaders that Britain will next year match or exceed the £2.3bn it committed to Ukraine’s war effort against Russia in 2022, on her first overseas trip as UK prime minister.

Truss, who met many leaders on the margins of Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral in London on Monday, arrives in New York on Tuesday with a hawkish commitment to stand by Ukraine for the long haul.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Truss vowed to the people of Ukraine: “The UK will continue to be right behind you every step of the way.” She will repeat that message in an address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Her trip to New York, where she will also hold bilateral talks with US president Joe Biden, marks the return of normal politics in Britain after 10 days of national mourning and the start of a crucial week for her government.

On Wednesday Jacob Rees-Mogg, business secretary, will set out more details of an energy bailout for companies, while on Thursday Thérèse Coffey, health secretary, will present a plan to shore up a struggling NHS.

Meanwhile, Truss will be back in London to see Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, deliver tax cuts as part of a mini-Budget on Friday, which will focus on her plan to boost Britain’s sluggish economic growth rate.

Labour, which has refrained from political attacks during the mourning period, will resume criticism of Truss, claiming that her government will favour the rich and profitable big business over ordinary people.

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, will target Kwarteng’s plan to scrap a cap on bankers’ bonuses, his refusal to impose an expanded windfall levy on energy companies and his plan to reverse a corporation tax rise.

Ed Miliband, shadow climate change secretary, said: “From ducking a windfall tax to giving bankers bonuses whilst working people suffer, Liz Truss is confirming what we’ve known all along: that Conservatives will never stand up for the British people.”

Kwarteng will argue his massive state intervention to hold down energy bills proves he is helping ordinary people. He claims that tax cuts generate growth, even if they are funded by borrowing.

Truss, foreign secretary in Boris Johnson’s government, will use her speech at the UN to urge the west to step up support for Kyiv following Ukraine’s recent successes on the battlefield against Russia.

Truss has previously said Moscow must leave the “whole of Ukraine”: a reference to her belief that Russian president Vladimir Putin should also pull his forces out of Crimea, which he invaded and annexed in 2014.

Downing Street said the UK was already the second-largest military donor to Ukraine, committing £2.3bn in 2022.

Britain has trained 27,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2015, and Number 10 said the UK has provided hundreds of rockets, five air defence systems, 120 armoured vehicles and other equipment.

Truss’s allies claim that the largest commercial road move of ammunition since the second world war was carried out last week. Tens of thousands more rounds of UK-donated artillery ammunition went to the front lines in Ukraine.

Truss’s bilateral talks with Biden will cover issues including the war and the continuing stand-off between Britain and the EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. Biden has already told Truss to seek a negotiated settlement with the EU on the issue.

Truss will also hold talks on Tuesday with French president Emmanuel Macron, who has paid eloquent tribute to the Queen and to Anglo-French relations in recent days.

During the Tory leadership contest, Truss said that “time will tell” whether Macron was “friend or foe”.