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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

British Foreign Policy Must-reads 21-27 August: Asylum, Borders, May, China, Afghanistan, Climate.

Despite the quiet summer recess of British politics grinding on, this week offered up a bumper crop of pieces on the UK's international relations.

  1. Asylum—Politico: UK facing highest number of asylum claims for two decades. The last time UK asylum claims were this high was 2002, when 84,130 asylum applications were made in a year.

  2. Asylum costs—inews: On asylum, the Government is learning that cruelty is expensive. Cash is being sunk down a bottomless black hole, simply so that Suella Braverman can show how much unnecessary suffering she can inflict.

  3. Migration—The Guardian: From sanctions to aid cuts, UK foreign policy is fuelling rising migration. Brendan O’Brien points to how western sanctions on countries including Afghanistan are a driving force behind the small boat crossings, while Nick Mayer calls for the overseas aid budget to be increased.

  4. UK-EU relations—FT: EU interest in UK wanes as commissioner goes green. Deals struck with Brussels on financial services and migration will be useful but small.

  5. Brexit and Northern Ireland—The Guardian: First ‘not for EU’ labels appear on supermarket food in Northern Ireland. Labels required on some items from October on back of updated post-Brexit deal seen in Asda.

  6. Border checks—FT: UK to confirm further delay to post-Brexit border controls. Checks on food and fresh products pushed back for fifth time owing to inflation fears.

  7. ECHR—Politico: Brexit Wars part II: Tories plot British exit from Europe’s human rights treaty. Right-wing Conservatives want Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  8. May on Brexit—The Times: Theresa May: Boris, Brexit and me. Four years and three prime ministers since she left Downing Street, Theresa May has written a book and loosened up (a bit). She tells Caroline Wheeler why she’ll never stop biting back from the back benches — and why Donald Trump wouldn’t let go of her hand.

  9. Wagner Group—FT: UK to proscribe Wagner group within weeks, say government insiders. Move comes after criticism that ministers have delayed cracking down on paramilitary network’s activities.

  10. China—The British Foreign Policy Group: Geopolitics and the China Question.

  11. China—The Times: Don’t say hostile state, Foreign Office tells staff. Effective ban in goverment papers is seen as a sop to China.

  12. China and AI—Politico: China expected at UK AI summit despite pushback from allies. Japan, US and EU are not keen on Brits inviting China to November tech gathering.

  13. Chinese espionage—The Times: Exposed: the Chinese spy using LinkedIn to hunt UK secrets. A Times investigation reveals that ‘Robin Zhang’ has been offering cash and contracts on an industrial scale for at least five years.

  14. Palmerstonian foreign policy (for the USA)—National Interest: America Needs A Palmerstonian Foreign Policy. While many in the United States seem to adhere to the idea that other countries are either eternal friends or perpetual enemies, many of America’s own allies think differently.

  15. Defence Policy—House of Lords Library: UK defence policy and the role of the armed forces. The UK’s defence policy has been set in the context of a changing international situation. In 2023 the government refreshed both its 2021 integrated review and its 2021 defence command paper, which set the strategic aims for the UK’s international relations and its defence policy. On 7 September 2023 the House of Lords is due to debate the following motion: “Lord Soames (Conservative) to move that this House takes note of the role of the armed forces and the UK’s defence policy”.

  16. Afghanistan—The FT: The west must stop playing the ‘Great Game’ in Afghanistan once and for all. Current policy is harming the prospects of those who need our help most, particularly women and girls.

  17. Afghanistan—The Times: How the Times defence editor helped one family flee the Taliban. The Guls’ work for the British forces left them in fear for their lives. Defence editor Larisa Brown on their harrowing ordeal.

  18. Environment—The Guardian: G20 poured more than $1tn into fossil fuel subsidies despite Cop26 pledges – report. Public money still flowing into industry despite agreement to phase out ‘inefficient’ subsidies, thinktank says.

  19. UNGA—FT: Rishi Sunak decides against attending UN General Assembly. UK prime minister set to anger environmental groups by missing event that will focus on sustainable development.

  20. The City—The Telegraph: We need a strategy to stop the City’s slow puncture. Stemming the decline of Britain’s financial services sector ought to be a national priority.

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