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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

BFP Must-Reads: 3.4-9.4 Post-Brexit borders, UK-EU relations, economic models and history of BFP

Here are my British Foreign Policy Must-Reads from a week in which discussions about Britain's international relations have, once again (surprise!), been dominated by dealing with the fallout from Brexit. Delays at dover led the headlines, but Brexit is at the heart of debates and proposals about the UK's economic/growth model, freeports, tourism, future border checks, fisheries, rebuilding relations with the rest of Europe, UK defence commitments in Europe, regulations, and the 'Special Relationship'. Thankfully the historians have been busy making sense of it all, with two excellent pieces published this week on the history of UK foreign policy over the past 100 years and, of course, the history of Brexit.

  1. UK-EU Relations ~ CER: Charles Grant — A British Strategy for Europe? After nearly seven years of acrimony, the UK and the EU are talking sweetly to each other. The Ukraine war reminded them how much they have in common.

  2. UK_EU Relations ~ UKICE: Why can only member states participate in EU decision-making? Marja-Liisa Öberg unpacks the logic behind EU ‘decision-making autonomy’ – where only member states can participate in making EU decisions – suggesting that treating third countries as outsiders is not a flaw in the system but a fundamental policy choice that is unlikely to change any time soon.

  3. Brexit and Tourism ~ FT: Peter forster — European school groups describe ‘Kafkaesque’ visa process for UK visits. Travel industry leaders urge government to make good on promise to reduce post-Brexit bureaucracy for school trips.

  4. Post-Brexit Border Checks ~ IoG: Brexit means borders – as coach travellers at Dover are discovering. Jill Rutter argues taking back control of our borders is why British travellers now face hold ups at Dover.

  5. Post-Brexit Border Checks ~ FT: Robert Wright and Arjun Neil Alim — UK government publishes plans for post-Brexit border checks. Introduction of new rules have been repeatedly delayed since Britain withdrew from bloc in January 2020.

  6. Post-Brexit Border Checks ~ The Grocer: Maria Gonçalves — Food companies to foot bill for Brexit border posts under new plans. The UK’s new post-Brexit border plan, published this week, could see food companies paying many millions of pounds to help the government recover costs for its new Brexit border posts.

  7. Improving UK Exports ~ IoD: How to improve the post-Brexit exporting environment. The Institute of Directors has today published a policy paper, ‘Exporting in a post-Brexit world: an agenda for the UK government’, which explores how different types of exporters are navigating the post-Brexit trading environment and makes a series of recommendations to government to ease the impact on UK businesses.

  8. Freeports ~ IFS: Stuart Adam and David Phillips — Freeports: What are they? What do we know? And what will we know? This report analyses the rationale for Freeports and what we can learn about their potential impact from past policies and a planned evaluation.

  9. UK attitudes to trade ~ Deloitte: Attitudes To Trade Survey 2023. It has been three years since the UK left the European Union. As the most significant change to British economic and foreign policy in half a century, Brexit marked the beginning of a permanent reshaping of trade and investment flows to and from the UK. Deloitte has been helping businesses adapt to changes in UK trade policy since the referendum in 2016. The UK’s independent trade policy was finally implemented in 2020. It has continued to evolve under successive Conservative governments but the central objective to date is widely known: to strike new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) around the world.

  10. Brexit and Fisheries ~ NYTimes: Stephen Castle — A Crab’s Eye View of Brexit. British seafood is prized in France and Spain far more than at home. Britain’s exit from the European Union hasn’t halted exports, but the path from sea to stovetop is fraught with new obstacles.

  11. Retained EU Law Bill ~ Observer: Toby Helm — Government retreats from Brexit bill plan to ditch EU laws. Climbdown likely after cross-party Lords revolt threatens to defeat Jacob Rees-Mogg’s retained EU law bill.

  12. UK Growth Model ~ CER: John Springford — Where is Britain’s Growth Plan? The government will have to confront vested interests and raise investment to boost growth. A strategy founded on trade deals with far-off countries and deregulation won’t work.

  13. 'Singapore-on-Thames' model ~ UKICE: What we talk about when we talk about Singapore. Bryan Cheang reflects on the invocation of the ‘Singapore model’ in UK politics and policy and compares the Singapore and Hong Kong economies to highlight that the reality is much more nuanced.

  14. UK defence commitments in Europe ~ RUSI and Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung: UK Defence and Security Relationships Across Europe. Mapping the evolving UK defence and security policy relationships with allies and partners across Europe.

  15. Royal diplomacy ~ The Times: Iain Martin — King Charles can be our ‘secret diplomatic weapon’. We underestimate the power of the throne abroad and have no reason to be embarrassed about the Commonwealth.

  16. The real US-UK ‘Special Relationship’ ~ The Telegraph: Henry Hill — The ‘special relationship’ is between America and Ireland, not Britain. No US president has ever attended a coronation. But is that precedent not a snub in itself?

  17. Hostage Diplomacy ~ House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: Stolen years: combatting state hostage diplomacy. State hostage taking, also known as Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, is not only a humanitarian outrage, but an attempt to undermine the Rules-Based International Order (RBIO). As a country committed to protecting the RBIO and to standing up for the rule of law and the protection of human rights, it is incumbent on the Government to hold other states to their commitments—particularly in respect to UK nationals. Hostage taking represents both a growing threat to UK nationals and a significant challenge to Government in terms of how it coordinates an effective response in individual cases, adequately supports hostages and their families, and works with allies both to resolve individual cases and strengthen deterrence. We recommend that the Government take bold and prompt steps to clarify criteria for deciding whether a UK national being held by a foreign state is considered arbitrarily detained and at risk of being used in hostage diplomacy. We were concerned to hear directly from the families involved about the way in which the FCDO liaised with them on efforts to secure the release of loved ones. There are lessons to be learnt from previous cases and from the experiences of other countries. We call for the establishment of a position of Director for Arbitrary and Complex Detentions (DACD) in order to deliver consistency, improved partnerships with families, better coordination across Whitehall, and greater authority and flexibility in managing the Government’s approach. In addition, we recommend a number of detailed measures to improve both engagement with families and Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the Government’s approach to arbitrary detentions.

  18. History of Brexit ~ Political Quarterly: Robert Saunders — How Do We Write the History of Brexit? The vote to leave the European Union in 2016 and the political crisis that followed offer obvious subjects for the political historian. Yet, the study of Brexit raises serious challenges for academic writing, concerning method, the political preferences of the historian and the implication of history as a discipline in the European debate. This article explores some of the dilemmas and opportunities confronting the historian of Brexit, focussing, in particular, on the challenges to be addressed, the utility of conventional political methods and the insights that might be drawn from allied fields. It argues for a greater emphasis on the imaginative resources on which the different campaigns could draw, urging greater attention to conventional wisdoms, languages of class, collective memory and the forging of cultural or exceptionalist identities.

  19. History of UK foreign policy ~ International Affairs: Archive Collection: 100 years of UK foreign policy. Including Ben Horton’s Introduction: 100 Years of UK Foreign Policy.

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