Once the UK departs from the EU, the government will embark on its pursuit of ‘Global Britain’. Whilst the impact upon the UK’s foreign policy will be profound, countless questions about how it will prioritise its roles and responsibilities in the world remain unanswered.
The government defined its Global Britain vision as ‘reinvesting in the UK’s relationships, championing the rules-based international order and demonstrating that the UK is open, outward-looking and confident on the world stage’. However, it faces a very different environment from when the UK entered the EEC in 1973. New populist and nationalist movements, technological threats, international security challenges and humanitarian crises have undermined the established multilateral system significantly, with the foreign policy community struggling to adapt.
Even as Brexit changes perceptions of the UK’s reliability as a partner, the country still holds considerable diplomatic influence and soft power across major global issues such as humanitarian and international development, trade, climate change and security. The impact of the invaluable work undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other government departments and agencies should not be underestimated – and it also must not be squandered.
To be a trusted partner and advance its own interests, the UK will need to address several strategic and reputational challenges in the coming months. Its allies need to know what the UK wants and how it is getting there, so they can work together effectively.
In FleishmanHillard Fishburn’s ‘Uncharted Waters: The Future of UK Foreign Policy’ series, our International Affairs team will examine the tough questions being asked of the UK’s future approach to trade, development, humanitarian issues and diplomacy. Together they give us the roadmap to advise governments, companies and NGOs on how to engage with the UK and achieve their own agenda.
The series begins with a look at how the UK can rebuild its reputation, you can read it here.
Michael Hartt, Head of International Affairs
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October 15, 2020