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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

British Foreign Policy Must-Reads 24-30 July: Environment, Wagner, FCDO, UK-EU relations

One narrow victory in a by-election and suddenly debate about Britain’s environmental policies, including its international commitments, dominates the headlines with some leading figures in the Conservative party and Conservative-leaning press questioning the UK’s commitments on net-zero and global warming. But as the FT pointed out, and as the charts below vividly show, the British are more than keen on protecting the planet. At least compared to other similar countries, that is. Other foreign policy debates this past week included a highly critical report on the UK’s response to the Wagner Group, the Economist offered some insights into both the state of the FCDO and Labor’s approach to international matters. Labour is likely to start with more positive relations with the EU, although analysis last week of the state of UK-EU relations is clear that ti will take more than nice words to rebuild relations and move them forward, especially when it comes to the 2025 review of the TCA or making further changes to the Windsor Framework and the future of UK-EU relations over Northern Ireland.

  1. Climate—UKICE: UK Climate Leadership: lost and found? Elizabeth Bomberg evaluates the UK’s climate leadership status, and in doing so considers the UK in relation to different dimensions of climate leadership: policy, economy, and leading by example.

  2. Net Zero—FT: Everyone loses if net zero becomes the new partisan divide. Cross-party support for green policies provided one of Britain’s few recent success stories, but this progress is now under threat.

  3. Global warming—The Times: Rishi Sunak aims to divide and rule after poll setback.

  4. China—The Economist: Whoever runs Britain will struggle to get tough on China. The opposition Labour Party talks of disengaging, but would struggle to do so.

  5. UK-Stans: The Economist: Why Central Asians are flocking to Britain. Britain is ever-keener on friendly relations with the Stans.

  6. Wagner Group—House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: Guns for gold: the Wagner Network exposed. The report is highly critical of the Government’s response to the threats posed by the Wagner Network and calls for the Government to radically change its approach to disrupting the Wagner Network.

  7. Missile shortage—War on the Rocks: Europe’s Missile Conundrum. The war in Ukraine demonstrated something that many already knew: Long-range strike weapons are of great utility for fighting wars. The ability to engage targets at operational and strategic depth critically enables the conduct of offensive and defensive maneuvers and can shape the conditions for victory on the battlefield. Yet, as a result of structural underfunding and different procurement priorities, European states [including the UK] have long ignored the shift towards stand-off range and precision strike in modern war. This has resulted in European missile arsenals not fit for purpose for high-intensity warfare. Deliveries of long-range strike weapons to Ukraine will further reinforce European stockpile shortages.

  8. Nuclear history—London Review of Books: No Place for Grumblers. Attack Warning Red! How Britain Prepared for Nuclear War by Julie McDowall.

  9. Labour’s foreign policy—The Economist: Keir Starmer’s plans for aid and diplomacy could help define him. The Labour leader’s stance is a test of his priorities.

  10. FCDO—The Economist: Britain has blown its reputation as a world leader in aid. Blame a botched merger of its aid and diplomatic corps, lower spending, and more secrecy.

  11. Blair—New Statesman: Tony Blair—Labour’s former prime minister on the AI revolution, the curse of Brexit and what Keir Starmer must do to win.

  12. UK-EU relations in harmony---FT: The UK and EU are discovering a post-divorce harmony on regulation. The post-Brexit relationship has been quietly maturing from petulance to managing divergence

  13. UK-EU relations rebuffed—FT: UK rebuffs EU offer for strategic dialogue. Idea for deeper partnership was dropped by Boris Johnson when he came to power in 2019.

  14. UK-EU relations frosty—Daily Express: Ignore EU-UK smoke and mirrors, relations are as frosty as ever. The Windsor Framework promised a thawing of EU-UK relations, but so far it's just so much talk, writes Jannike Wachowiak.

  15. Skilled workers—The Times: How European baristas and au pairs could return to Britain under government scheme.

  16. Northern Ireland—UCL Constitution Unit: Perspectives on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement: new evidence and insights. The Constitution Unit today publishes a new report examining diverse perspectives on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Through interviews, focus groups, and documentary analysis, it reveals different understandings, preferences, hopes, and fears, in Northern Ireland and beyond. As efforts continue to restore Northern Ireland’s power-sharing institutions, authors Alan Renwick and Conor J. Kelly argue that only by listening to these many viewpoints can progress be made.

  17. Windsor Framework—Katy Hayward, Will the Windsor Framework work?

  18. Windsor Framework—House of Lords: Windsor Framework an improvement on the Protocol, but problems remain, says Lords Committee. Today the Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland publishes a major report on the Windsor Framework, examining the economic, political, legal and constitutional implications of the Windsor Framework on Northern Ireland. Based on the large volume of evidence it received during its inquiry, the Sub-Committee concludes that the Windsor Framework is an improvement on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland as originally negotiated, but it is evident that the Windsor Framework does not resolve all the problems with the Protocol.

  19. Windsor Framework—UKICE: Where Northern Ireland Voters Generally Agree: Stakeholder Engagement on the Protocol/Windsor Framework. David Phinnemore examines the latest polling on voter attitudes in Northern Ireland, and what it means for the importance of stakeholder engagement with the working of post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.

  20. Gibraltar—UKICE: Borders, boots, and Brexit: What’s behind the Gibraltar and Spain impasse? Following the recent Spanish elections, Andrew Canessa shines a light on the problematic nature of Gibraltar’s border with Spain, and the protracted efforts to resolve the issue.

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