An uninhibited conservative, Liz Truss appears as a reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher, the former head of government who was hardly interested in the African continent, except to maintain a more than ambiguous relationship with the apartheid regime. However, the cabinet that replaces that of Boris Johnson can hardly be accused of ordinary racism. It is the most diverse in Britain’s history, with top portfolios given to personalities with personal ties to an Africa that has nothing to do with segregation.
The Minister of the Finance and the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development both have African blood. Responsible for managing the cost of living crisis, fueled by soaring energy prices, Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng was born in London to Ghanaian parents. Foreign Affairs official James Cleverly was born to a Sierra Leonean mother. They both become the first black men to occupy these strategic positions.
As for Suella Braverman, the youngest Minister of the Interior in history – she is 42 years old – her parents were of Indian origin, but it was Kenya and Mauritius that they left to settle in Britain. Should we see in these nominations “resulting from diversity” a simple calculation of the Tories often accused of being excessively “pale”, to create a buzz in “redemption” mode? Nothing is less sure.
Longtime friend and ally of Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng is no last-minute alibi. And the line ideological of the three newcomers is perfectly consistent with the unbridled conservatism of their Prime Minister. Sometimes even to the point of caricature. Kwarteng, for example, is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who likes nothing more than to denounce the “laziness” of British workers. “Anti-woke” and critical of “diversity training”, Braverman campaigns for a British withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights and supports the sending of certain asylum seekers to Rwanda…
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In any case, the fall of Johnson does not augur an ideological repositioning of Great Britain and the African continent certainly expects little from an executive who has demonstrated its recent tendencies towards isolationism. Certainly, the member countries of the Commonwealth will keep a close eye on London. Like some French-speaking African countries, which no longer want to put all their eggs in one French basket. Gabon and Togo have thus offered to join the intergovernmental organization… but long before their British interlocutor is tinted of Africanness.