Liz Truss has for the first time invited guests to a country seat traditionally reserved for the Foreign Secretary, in the wake of a row with Dominic Raab over who gets use of the property.
Ms Truss shared a photo on Monday of herself and her counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania walking in the grounds of Chevening House, Kent.
Mr Raab, who was demoted from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary at the last reshuffle but gained a new role as Deputy Prime Minister, was said to have objected to losing the use of the house and insisted he was allowed to visit.
In a further blow to his standing in Whitehall, it was also revealed on Monday that he has not been asked to head the Government while the Prime Minister is on holiday.
Boris Johnson reportedly refused to intervene in the row over Chevening, which Ms Truss used for the first time on Monday.
A source denied that the photoshoot was intended to show Mr Raab, pictured below, she had taken ownership of the house.
Credit: PA/Peter Byrne
“There’s nothing deliberate to it. It’s business as usual and an event that Liz inherited when she became Foreign Secretary,” a government source said. “This meeting was always supposed to be at Chevening.”
It came as Downing Street admitted Mr Raab had not been put in charge of the Government while Mr Johnson is on holiday in Marbella, despite his latest appointment.
“The Prime Minister continues to be in charge as is always the case,” his spokesman said.
“[He] has taken calls with leaders already and there will be others to follow … [and] has been kept regularly updated on the ongoing work to address the current issues around fuel and supply chains.
“He is in regular contact with ministers and No 10. He is also continuing to take calls, particularly in the run-up to COP26.”
Very good #UK #Baltic meeting at #Chevening, we are like minded nations and we reaffirmed strong partnership to defend our common values globally, we will continue our cooperation in security, trade, digital and green economy fields. 🇬🇧🇱🇻🇪🇪🇱🇹 pic.twitter.com/YTEIWCLIlZ
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) October 11, 2021
Ms Truss and her counterparts used the meeting on Monday to strengthen their partnerships to counter “malign actors,” which the Foreign Office named as Russia, Belarus and China.
Ms Truss said: “The UK’s partnership with our Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian allies is based on shared goals on security, economic prosperity and protecting democratic values and freedoms.
Chopper’s Politics podcast – Liz Truss
“The UK and our Baltic partners are champions of democracy and its associated freedoms. [On Monday] Foreign ministers Eva-Maria Liimets, Edgars Rinkevics, Gabrielius Landsbergis and I committed to advancing those freedoms and to work together to protect the basic human rights and values that underpin the democratic world that we want to live in.”