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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

BFP10: 31.10~6.11 A normal week for UK government?

After the chaos of the past few weeks the most remarkable thing about the past week was how relatively calm it was. As one Tory MP told the FT: “This is the first normal government we’ve had since before the referendum. Theresa’s was abnormal, Boris’ was certainly abnormal and Truss was extremely abnormal. But let’s see how long the normality lasts.” It won’t last long, of course. We’re only a few days away from a budget expected to cut about £50 billion from the British state. And the Home Secretary has been busy living up to a description of her as a ‘human hand grenade’.

Here then are my British Foreign Policy 10 from the week when a prime ministerial U-turn (Sunak will now attend COP27) wasn't a catastrophic event: 10 of the best reports, podcasts, twitter threads speeches etc. that I’ve added to my Zotero database this past week.

  1. This past week might have been calmer than the week before, but the political and economic chaos of the last few months continues to generate lots of pieces about the state of the UK and where it now finds itself in the world. The best from the past week was by Sebastian Whale and Graham Lanktree for Politico: ‘Where Britain went wrong: How Britain became the sick man of Europe - again.’ What went wrong was, 'an illness brought about in part through a series of self-inflicted wounds that have undermined the basic pillars of any economy: confidence and stability.’

  2. What can Sunak expect at COP27? In a piece for Bloomberg Kitty Donaldson and Alberto Nardelli report that: “According to one diplomat: the world wants Sunak to revert to the steady, dependable, perhaps boring British diplomacy that predates the topsy-turvy Boris Johnson years and his ill-fated successor, Truss.”

  3. Over at The Diplomat, Laura Southgate looks at UK foreign policy towards Southeast Asia following Sunak’s appointment as PM. She writes that ‘According to a recent survey of elite public opinion in ASEAN, the region’s governments increasingly perceive the U.K. as a “preferred and trusted strategic partner” that can help it hedge against the uncertainties of the US-China strategic rivalry.’

  4. As the first Hindu to become Prime Minister, there has been much discussion about what Sunak will mean for British-Indian relations. According to The Times of India, India’s neutrality over Ukraine was one of the more thorny topics raised by Sunak in his first call with Indian PM Modi.

  5. The return of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary was the most controversial choice Sunak made for his cabinet. Security breaches, her decisions and failures over immigration and asylum, and now a description of a migrant 'invasion' have seen her live up to a description of her as a ‘human hand grenade.’ Robert Shirmsley for the FT sees Braverman is an example of 'Alibi Conservatism' that offers harsh responses in a hope of appealing to target voters while ignoring the key deterrent and solution to crime and immigration problems: efficiency.

  6. The Tony Blair Institute offers its ideas for how to solve the UK’s asylum system, which would include 'digital identification for all citizens'. Fixing the Asylum System: A Workable Plan.

  7. Over at This Week in Brexitland, Nick Tyrone looks at what benefits removing all EU laws and regulations will have for the UK. As Tyrone makes very clear: 'There is very, very little regulation inherited from the EU that is actively harmful. Of what there is that could ideally be removed, none of it is particularly economically significant. Pretty much all of the EU derived regulation is well constructed, and in fact, most of the times when it ends up being in any way harmful for the UK, it is because of the poorly thought out way that the Directives have been translated into UK law.'

  8. One of the benefits of Brexit could be greater flexibility in the UK’s state-aid regime, at least when compared to that of the EU. Peter Foster, for the FT, looks at the detail of the UK's plans.

  9. Andrew Duff, the former Lib Dem MEP, sets out his ideas for how the UK might rejoin the EU, but with changes and willingness to change needed on both sides: The Wanderer Returns: A Roadmap for Britain’s Return to Europe.

  10. And finally… London is putting New York to shame. At least that’s the view of Steve Cuzzo in the New York Post. Do the Elizabeth Line and the renovated Battersea Power Station show that London is moving ahead in the race between the world’s two Alpha++ global cities?

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