iz Truss pitched the UK as a key ally in Europe in the fight against authoritarianism, as she spoke with key European leaders at a crunch summit in Prague.
The Prime Minister, who has endured a difficult few days after a Conservative Party conference dominated by internal division and backbench opposition to some of her key policies, landed in the Czech capital on Thursday for a day of diplomatic catch-ups and key bilateral meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders.
It is understood that Ms Truss used a five-minute speaking slot to stress the UK’s commitment to Ukraine and to urge her fellow leaders to seek out more resilient energy supplies.
She will later meet Mr Macron, as well as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, with Ms Truss expected to focus on migration and progress on joint operations to disrupt people-trafficking gangs.
Ms Truss also had a brief chat with Irish Premier Micheal Martin ahead of the summit’s plenary session, amid hopes in Brussels and Dublin of a change of tack by the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Her first meeting was with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala came early in the day, at which No 10 said the pair noted opportunities for future collaboration on securing long-term energy supplies, while she also thanked him for attending the funeral of the Queen in London last month.
According to No 10, the pair said they were also in “strong agreement” on the need for like-minded European democracies to present a “united front” against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “brutality” towards Ukraine.
It is understood that Ms Truss used the post-communist history of the Czech Republic and the example of its first president Vaclav Havel, to impress upon her fellow leaders the need to stand up for freedom when she spoke earlier.
Ms Truss’s presence in Prague has also attracted the interest of the European media, given the UK’s frosty relations with the EU in recent years and the ongoing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Are you happy to be in Europe, Prime Minister?” one reporter shouted at her as she walked into the gothic building hosting the summit.
She did not speak to the media when she arrived at the grand surroundings of Prague Castle, where she was greeted by Mr Fiala.
Even in Prague, Ms Truss could not escape from some of the turmoil in the Conservative Party, as former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, a backer of hers during the leadership race, warned that the Prime Minister must change course or risk leading the Tories to a landslide defeat at the next general election.
Ms Dorries told The Times: “I understand that we need to rocket-booster growth but you don’t do that by throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t win elections by lurching to the right and deserting the centre ground for Keir Starmer to place his flag on.
“If we continue down this path, we absolutely will be facing a Stephen Harper-type wipeout. I’m sure she’s listened and will stop and rethink.”
Former Canadian prime minister Mr Harper lost power to Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election.
It was also reported the Conservatives have stopped working with Isaac Levido, the Australian political strategist who played a key role in the Tory election win in 2019.
Lee Cain, former communications chief to Ms Truss’s predecessor Boris Johnson, said it was a “monumental error” given that Mr Levido helped spearhead the “best election campaign in decades”.