Jeremy Hunt is using his first trip to Washington DC as Foreign Secretary to criticise the EU both for the prospect of “No deal” Brexit, which he says would be a “big geo-strategic mistake” and for not being tough enough on Russia…
What’s Jeremy Hunt's message?
Following the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury back in March and then more recently that of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, which tragically led to her death, relations between the UK and Russia are incredibly poor.
After that initial poisoning, there was support from European leaders with May, Merkel and Macron all releasing a rare joint statement with the US in condemnation. The EU also condemned the attack and many member states joined the UK in expelling dozens of Russian diplomats.
However, once Dawn Sturgess died, a US law on the use of chemical weapons kicked in which meant they needed to impose new sanctions.
Jeremy Hunt, obviously keen to endear himself to the American administration, will be calling on the EU to match this as there haven’t been any serious repercussions after that second more severe poisoning.
Why hasn’t the EU acted?
Mr Hunt will say the Salisbury attack was part of a pattern of behaviour from Russia, including the annexation of Crimea and its support for the Assad regime in Syria, which made the world "more dangerous".
But the EU hasn’t imposed any further sanctions on Russia since Crimea and some are even keen to relax those. The Italian Prime Minister has aired pro-Moscow views and the Foreign Minister of Austria even invited President Putin to her wedding recently and danced with him. There doesn’t seem to be any appetite within the EU for imposing any new sanctions.
What else will the Foreign Secretary be doing in Washington?
Jeremy Hunt will also be meeting with his US counterpart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and visit the White House for meetings with senior Trump administration officials.
He’ll then be heading to New York to address the United Nations Security Council on the international fight against ISIS and other Islamist terror groups.