BFP-10 26.9~2.10 KamiKwazi foreign policy
British politics this week has been dominated by the political and economic fallout from the ‘mini-budget’ delivered last Friday by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. The economic fallout might have left the UK poorer and cost the Conservatives dearly in the opinion polls, but it delivered a wealth of material about what this all means for Britain internationally.
Here then are my British Foreign Policy 10 from the week when ‘mini-budget’ sounded about as credible a description as ‘limited military operation’ — 10 of the best reports, podcasts, twitter threads speeches etc. that I’ve added to my Zotero database this past week.
‘How not to run a country’ was the clear headline from The Economist. Instead of inspiring confidence, the mini-budget reinforced market fears that the UK is adrift. ‘Talk of Caracas-on-Thames is over the top, but instability deters the very investors that the government aims to attract.’
Politico’s Ryan Heath was even more blunt: ‘Is Britain becoming a Banana Monarchy?’
It isn’t difficult to connect the mini-budget to Brexit. In many ways it is the logical product of the libertarian economic outlook of the Leave supporters who now dominate the UK’s government. But for Robert Shirmsley, writing in the FT, it reflects a deeper and more worrying belief amongst some Leave supporters that a pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see Britain through. In a piece entitled ‘Brexit ideology lies behind the UK’s market rout’ he argues that, ‘[the mini-budget] is what happens if you keep telling yourself that everyone else is wrong.’
For Janan Ganesh, also in the FT, the failures of the mini-budget go beyond the UK-EU relationship. The origins also lie in the British elite’s flawed obsession with the USA. ‘So much of what Britain has done and thought in recent years makes sense if you assume it is a country of 330mn people with $20tn annual output’ he writes in his piece entitled ‘Truss learns the hard way that Britain isn’t America.’
The transatlantic theme is also picked over by Jeremy Cliffs in the New Statesman: ‘Liz Truss and the rise of the libertarian right - The free-market thinkers and ideas behind the most radical economic experiment in Britain for 40 years.’
The Sunday Times reports that Liz Truss advised/told King Charles not to attend COP27 in November. It’s been taken as a sign that His Majesty and His Majesty’s Government are not as one when it comes to the kingdom’s approach to tackling global environmental problems.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has presented left-wing parties with uncomfortable questions about defence policies, not least about the UK’s membership of NATO. Over on Bright Green, in a piece entitled ‘Green opposition to NATO is strategically and morally right’, Ross Greer MSP, the External Affairs spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, sets out a way forward for the Green Party.
News that the BBC World Service will cut a large number of language services was met with dismay across the UK’s foreign policy community. Understandably it triggered lots of discussion about about what this would cost the UK’s soft power. One example was this piece by Yuan Yi Zhu on Unherd: ‘Slashing the BBC World Service is a disaster.’
Can Liz Truss rebuild relations with the EU? The CER’s Charles Grant takes a look at what it will take for the new PM to reset relations. Grant is clear that the biggest challenge is over Northern Ireland. But one of Grant’s suggestions is for Truss to attend the first meeting of Macron’s ‘European Political Community.’
And finally… news of UK and EU leaders getting along is so rare that many (including Charles Grant?) were surprised by the news that Liz Truss has agreed to not only attend the first meeting of President Macron’s ‘European Political Community’ that takes place in Prague next week, but is even reported to be open to the idea of London hosting the second meeting. Politico’s Jakob Hank’s Vela has the details. Over on Twitter, Georgina Wright offers some helpful insights into British thinking.