1.Since June 2016, Government Ministers have repeatedly asserted that the UK’s decision to leave the EU does not indicate that the UK will withdraw from global affairs more broadly. This initiative has been badged by the Government as ‘Global Britain’. Following repeated requests by the Committee from December 2017 onwards, the Foreign Office provided a memorandum on 1 March 2018 that explained its “vision of Global Britain and the role of the [FCO] in supporting and enabling government departments to deliver this vision”. The memorandum said that the “concept” of Global Britain was “shorthand” for the UK’s determination to adjust to Brexit and “the pace of change in an ever more challenging global environment”, to “continue to be a successful global foreign policy player”, and “to resist any sense that Britain will be less engaged in the world in the next few years”. Global Britain, it said, was:
Intended to signal that the UK will, as Ministers have put it, continue to be open, inclusive and outward facing; free trading; assertive in standing up for British interests and values; and resolute in boosting our international standing and influence. It is a Britain with global presence, active in every region; global interests, working with our allies and partners to deliver the global security and prosperity that ensures our own; and global perspectives, engaging with the world in every area, influencing and being influenced.
The most frequent complaint we have heard from several witnesses is that the only thing that is clear about Global Britain is that it is unclear what it means, what it stands for or how its success should be measured.
2.The Foreign Affairs Committee is therefore launching a long-term piece of work to explore in detail the Government’s ambitions and objectives for Global Britain, and to seek the views of other experts on these questions. This initial report sets out what has been said about Global Britain so far and the key questions that any new foreign policy strategy should seek to address, and identifies likely areas for further exploration in our work programme over the coming months.
1 Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see Appendix], paragraph 1
2 Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see Appendix], paragraph 5
3 Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see Appendix], paragraph 7
4 Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see Appendix], paragraphs 5 and 6
5 Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see Appendix], paragraph 7
6 Professor John Bew, Specialist Adviser, has declared the following interests: consultant for the think tank Policy Exchange on a project called ‘Britain in the World’, examining UK foreign policy (since March 2016); contributing writer (not contracted) for the New Statesman; past consultancy for M&C Saatchi on informal basis; father is Cross-Bench Peer in House of Lords (Lord Bew of Donegore)
Published: 12 March 2018