Since June 2016, Government Ministers have repeatedly used the phrase ‘Global Britain’ to indicate the UK’s foreign policy ambitions. But Global Britain has not been precisely defined by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has also appeared reluctant to respond to our requests for basic information about the objectives of Global Britain and the resources to be devoted to it.
The time is right to take stock of the UK’s role in the world, not only in the light of domestic developments but also in the light of long-term changes in the international system and global balance of power. The UK has a wide range of attributes that have traditionally made it a global player, but it remains unclear what the Government believes the UK should do with these resources and assets in the post-Brexit environment, and how the UK should exercise leadership on the most urgent and complex issues facing the international system. For Global Britain to be more than a worthy aspiration, the slogan must be backed by substance. The FCO should place online, in one place, all the statements and speeches that Ministers have made about Global Britain, and all other Government documents in the public domain that set out what Global Britain means, translated into the world’s ten most-used languages. If it comes to be perceived as a superficial branding exercise, it risks undermining UK interests by damaging our reputation overseas and eroding support for a global outlook here at home.
Over the coming year, the Committee will explore in detail the Government’s objectives for Global Britain and make recommendations. This initial report sets out a list of questions the Government will need to answer in setting a coherent strategic direction for UK foreign policy, covering its policy priorities, areas where the UK can have the greatest impact, the resources and infrastructure needed to support the Government’s aspirations, and metrics that can be used to measure success. We will address these questions in subsequent evidence sessions and reports.
Published: 12 March 2018