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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

BFP Must-Reads 11-17 Sep: Starmer-Macron bromance, 'Argentina on the Channel', UK's European World

British foreign policy must-reads this week have been largely dominated by two issues: Labour's emerging European agenda, especially on migrants and the potential for a bromance between Starmer and Macron; and Chinese espionage in Parliament, led not only by arrests over spying but also by the Government's response to Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee's report on China. The dawning realisation in Britain of Britain's European place in the world -- or as 'Argentina on the Channel' as Mark Carney put it -- leads the reports on Brexit. This time next year we'll be closing in on the US presidential election and more than likely the British general election. It's inevitable that the former will influence the latter while also shaping the discussions covered in some articles this past week about transatlantic trade, security, and public opinion. Finally, the state of the UK's air defences mean it's unlikely it could defend itself against the sort of Kamikaze drone attacks Ukraine has recently successfully launched against Russia.

  1. Labour and Europe—Guardian: Labour wants new EU links in a reset of British foreign policy. Ties with Europe are a top priority, says shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, as he calls for Britain to play a lead role in world affairs.

  2. Labour and migrants—FT: Keir Starmer vows to strike a UK migrants ‘return agreement’ with EU. Conservatives warn deal will force Britain to accept asylum seekers from across the bloc.

  3. Labour and migrants—Sunday Times: Keir Starmer: Labour will smash Channel migrant gangs. Rwanda will go and traffickers will be treated like terrorists, the opposition leader tells Steven Swinford.

  4. Starmer-Macron bromance—Politico: Emmanuel Macron set to host UK Labour leader Keir Starmer in Paris. Coup for Britain’s opposition leader as French president agrees to bilateral summit.

  5. China—FT: Arrest of alleged spy raises questions around UK’s China policy. Critics say London is too soft on Beijing as MPs ask whether their safety is at risk.

  6. China—FT: Rishi Sunak urged to conduct ‘full audit’ of UK-China relations. Labour calls for review after parliamentary researcher is arrested on suspicion of spying.

  7. China—New Statesman: Britain is asking the wrong questions about China. A new realism is needed to deal with the threat from Beijing.

  8. Britain's European place in the world—FT: Britain’s dawning self-awareness. The nation has realised what it is: a small country that needs immigrants, high taxes and European allies.

  9. Argentina on the Channel—Sky News: Liz Truss turned Britain into 'Argentina on the Channel', says ex-Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Mark Carney also criticised "far-right populists" and Brexiteers for having a "basic misunderstanding of what drives economies". Ms Truss, who became the shortest-serving prime minister in history when she resigned last year, has defended her policies since leaving office.

  10. Brexit 2.0—FT: UK SMEs not ready for ‘avalanche’ of Brexit 2.0 rules and taxes. Business group warns small and medium-sized companies face significant new obligations.

  11. May on Brexit—BBC News: Theresa May: My Brexit deal would have been better for UK. Former Prime Minister Theresa May has told the BBC the UK would have been better off if MPs had backed her deal to leave the European Union.

  12. EU and Brexit—FT: The EU’s transformations will reshape its ‘British question’ too. Ukraine’s likely accession to the bloc and the process of internal reform will have a transformative effect.

  13. UK-EU Border Cooperation—Bloomberg: UK Nears Post-Brexit Deal for Access to EU Border Agency. Rishi Sunak aims to announce Frontex agreement in October. Premier hopes deal will help with ‘stop the boats’ pledge.

  14. Brexit and Investment—UKICE: The investment gap: the UK’s efforts to replace the European Investment Bank. Following Brexit, the UK lost access to funding from the European Investment Bank. In this report, Stephen Hunsaker and Peter Jurkovic detail the impact this has had on the UK development finance landscape. The report outlines not only the role that development banks play in providing longer term financing for projects the private sector might be reluctant to support, but also the specific role the European Investment Bank played in infrastructure investments in the UK prior to 2020. It also explores the potential and ongoing implications of a lack of access to that investment despite the existence of a number of UK based banks intended to fill the gap.

  15. UK and EU Emissions Trading—UKICE: UK and EU Emissions Trading Schemes – drifting in different directions? Sam Lowe and James Low explore the benefits and challenges of linking the UK and EU Emissions Trading Schemes.

  16. FCO and Brexit—BBC News: Ex-Foreign Office chief Lord McDonald told colleagues he voted to stay in the EU. Former Foreign Office chief Lord McDonald has revealed he told ministers and colleagues he voted to stay in the EU in the wake of Brexit.

  17. Trade with USA—Bloomberg: US Envoy Says UK Should Seek ‘Smaller Things,’ Not Major FTA. US Ambassador to the UK Jane Hartley speaks to Bloomberg TV. Hartley says US electoral cycle will hinder trade negotiations.

  18. UK and the Transatlantic—GMF: Transatlantic Trends 2023. Transatlantic Trends 2023 presents the results of representative surveys conducted in 14 countries on both sides of the Atlantic: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Divided into five chapters, this report assesses public opinion on contemporary structural issues impacting the world order, transatlantic relations, security and defense, China, and global challenges.

  19. Global Trade—FT: Outgoing UK trade chief warns on dangers of global protectionism. Simon Walker says the Johnson government failed to live up to its free trade promises.

  20. Air Defence Procurement—House of Commons Defence Committee: Aviation Procurement: Winging it? Tenth Report of Session 2022–23.

  21. Drone Defence—Thin Pinstriped Line: Droning On — How Does the UK Defence Itself Against Drone Attack? 'In his keynote speech at DSEI, the UK Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, noted the rise in Kamikaze drones and the risk to UK infrastructure from missile attack. There is currently no real ability to defend against surprise attack in the UK homeland, with no missiles deployed to shoot down incoming threats, and no batteries of anti-aircraft guns ready to fight off drone swarms. If a hostile power like Russia chose to launch such an attack today, could the UK really respond? The answer is probably no.'

  22. Indo-Pacific Maritime Security—The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies: Why should Europe guard the Indo-Pacific maritime commons: Order, Access, or US hegemony? Europe faces difficult choices in the Indo-Pacific, as the Sino-American competition intensifies and the multilateral order that protects the freedom of the seas comes increasingly under threat. This paper argues that Europeans need to more clearly formulate their objectives and develop policies based on a realistic view of their capabilities before embarking on a long-term commitment in the Indo-Pacific. This paper examines three distinctive objectives (1) upholding the maritime order, (2) ensure that Europe maintains access to key Asian economies, and (3) support for U.S. hegemony. The authors also offer a number of solutions with which Europeans can compensate for their lack of naval capabilities and consider serious maritime engagement in the Indo-Pacific. For example, European states, like the UK and France, should more effectively share and pool infrastructure in the region and rotate their forces in and out. The maintenance of access to the Indo-Pacific region and the safeguarding of economic interests, while avoiding entanglement in Sino-American competition, is a central consideration for European stakeholders. Alternatively, when extending support to the United States in the Indo-Pacific arena, Europeans could prioritise the strengthening of U.S. hegemony and the broader regional order. In this regard, European engagement in the Indo-Pacific is driven by the desire to sustain transatlantic relations and to ensure U.S. involvement in European security matters. Additionally, this paper examines European commitment to fostering a multilateral maritime order through collaboration with small and middle-power nations in Asia. This kind of collaboration aims to solidify the established rules governing open seas and legal dispute resolutions. The strengthening of both formal and informal institutions in this context represents a significant opportunity to mitigate the risk of escalation.


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