Boris Johnson should exploit the current atmosphere of goodwill towards the new British prime minister by pushing for unity at this weekend’s G7 summit, especially in framing a new approach to dealing with China, former Tory opposition leader William Hague has said.

As Mr Johnson heads to Biarritz for his first such summit of major world leaders, Mr Hague says he has an opportunity to show a better face to the world of Britain than the image of a country torn apart by Brexit, and in so doing push to achieve coordinated strategies from the G7 on a range of issues.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hague said the G7 nations were “desperately short” of ideas around which they could coalesce “to address the main threats that will overcome them unless they look far enough ahead”.

“A new British PM has the world’s attention and the goodwill of America. This is a rare opportunity to present some clear ideas, to take a global lead, and in doing so show a better face of Britain,” he said.

Mr Hague placed a “new, common, and visionary approach to relations with China” at the top of his list of priorities for the G7.

“As things stand, a potentially dangerous superpower rivalry between the US and China looks likely to dominate this century,” he wrote.

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William Hague has put China at the top of his list of priorities for the G7 leaders to address (Dan Kitwood/PA)

“Britain could advocate standing with (US president Donald) Trump on confronting China’s approach to trade and technology, but recognising China’s global financial role, working together on development and the environment and halting a new arms race in space and AI weapons – ‘autonomous killing machines’.

“Only a united policy on the part of Western nations will provide the strength and confidence for this to work.”

Mr Hague also called on the four European nations of the G7 – the UK, France, Germany and Italy – to “give attention to the instability of the western Balkans and the drift away from the Western alliance of Turkey”.

The G7 summit, which runs from Saturday to Monday, will also include leaders from regular members the United States, Canada and Japan, as well as from special invitees Spain, India and Australia.