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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

British Foreign Policy Must-Reads 31 Jul - 6 Aug: Special Relationship, Brexit, Risk, Indo-Pacific

This week's must-reads begins with a Ripon Forum issue on the UK-US special Relationship. Garvan Walshe and I penned a piece setting out how the core of the relationship remains strong and highly unlikely to break. Other pieces look at the economics of Brexit, China, trade, Ukraine, AUKUS and the history of the relationship. As with so much of British foreign policy, large parts of that core can be traced back to a certain Anglo-American statesman who stares out from the front cover. Other must-reads this week include the analysis into why HMG is backtracking or suspending policies brought in to deliver Brexit (e.g. border checks and product marks), the new UK Risk Register, two takes on the current state of Brexit, and an analysis of the UK's approach to the Indo-Pacific.


  1. Special Relationship—Ripon Forum: The August issue includes pieces on The Special Relationship: Why it still matters 77 years after Churchill coined the phrase (by me and Garvan Walshe); Britain after Brexit: Mugged by Economic Reality; Two Trade Moves to Strengthen the Special Relationship; The U.S., the UK, and the Politics of Ukraine; Dawn of the Not-So-Golden Era of UK-China Relations; Proving the Benefits of AUKUS; A Brief History of the Special Relationship.

  2. World views of Rishi Sunak—Evening Standard: The incredible shrinking Sunak — how the world now sees Rishi. Something deeply unfortunate is happening to the Prime Minister on the world stage. Instead of growing and accumulating gravitas nine months into the job, Rishi Sunak is shrinking in political stature. From global warming to Ukraine, one after the other on issues his predecessor carved out a big place for Britain, the Prime Minister has deliberately shrunk himself and the country’s role. He has frittered away a good hand.

  3. National risk register—HMG: The National Risk Register. The document outlines the most serious risks facing the United Kingdom. The 2023 National Risk Register is the external version of the National Security Risk Assessment, which is the government’s assessment of the most serious risks facing the UK. It provides the government’s updated assessment of the likelihood and potential impact of a broad range of risks that may directly affect the UK and its interests. The National Risk Register

  4. FCDO—FT: Foreign Office report reveals ‘grim’ human toll of UK’s overseas aid cuts. Risk from reductions include as many as 3,000 child deaths in South Sudan from malnutrition, according to analysis

  5. BBC World Service—Foreign Affairs: The BBC and the Decline of British Soft Power. How Domestic Politics Muffled the Country’s Voice.

  6. Energy Security—Bloomberg: Does Sunak’s Embrace of Oil Drilling Boost UK Energy Security? British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement this week that the government will grant hundreds of new licenses for oil and gas production in the North Sea unleashed a flurry of claims over the impact on the climate and energy security. While the move certainly cements a policy shift in the Conservative government’s approach to the environment, what does it mean for the UK in practical terms?

  7. UK M&A—FT: UK and EU divide opens up on dealmaking regulation. Executives now have to pay much more attention to British watchdog on M&A.

  8. UK Science—FT: You don’t become a science superpower without taking care of the basics. Britain’s ambition to lead technological transformation is hobbled by inertia in both the public and private sectors.

  9. Brexit policies—FT: Rishi Sunak’s Brexit climbdowns rile Eurosceptic Tory MPS. UK prime minister ditches policies that are undermining economic growth.

  10. UK-EU Defence links—Politico: Michel Barnier calls for post-Brexit UK-EU defense treaty. Brussels’ former Brexit chief urges collaboration on shared challenges and reflects on tumultuous talks.

  11. Border checks—FT: Post-Brexit UK border food checks delayed again on inflation fears. Planned regime already put back several times and now government and business balk at impact of red tape on prices.

  12. UKCA/CE Product Marks—FT: UK government climbs down on post-Brexit product mark. Adoption of Britain-only rival to EU’s CE designation postponed ‘indefinitely’, say ministers.

  13. State of Brexit 1—Bremainers in Spain: Bremainers Ask Revisited In our occasional “Bremainers Ask Revisited” feature, we ask former contributors to comment on the current state of play, and Brexit in particular. This time we asked Marina Purkiss (Jeremy Kyle Show/Bylines/Trawl Podcast), Professor Anand Menon (Director, UK in a Changing Europe) and Peter Corr (National Rejoin March) to comment on the first six months of 2023 and what might happen next.

  14. State of Brexit 2—Encompass: UK-EU relations: Post Windsor it’s warm words over substance. The Windsor Agreement carried the promise of closer cooperation between the UK and the EU and the member states. When UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the Framework, both hailed the opening of a new chapter in the UK-EU relationship. Their words were echoed days later by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, at the first France-UK Summit in five years. However, the latest UK in a Changing Europe tracker on developments in UK-EU relations highlights that despite the improved mood music there has been little progress on substance and it is difficult to see that changing under the constraints of the new relationship.

  15. UK in Indo-Pacific—Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs: Shingo Nagata ~ From Global Britain to Atlantic–Pacific: The United Kingdom’s Indo-­Pacific Policy under the Integrated Review Refresh 2023. This article examines the United Kingdom’s Indo-­Pacific policy as outlined in the Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a More Contested and Volatile World (IR23). Released in March 2023, this foreign policy and national security paper builds upon the Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR21), which codified the post-­Brexit foreign policy initiative Global Britain in March 2021, with the Indo-­Pacific Tilt policy as a central component. However, in IR23, the Indo-­Pacific policy was positioned within the Atlantic–Pacific partnership, as opposed to Global Britain. This article argues that through the utilization of the Anglo-­French defense and security cooperation, the Australia–United Kingdom–United States (AUKUS) defense security cooperation framework, and the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), London demonstrates a clear long-­term commitment to promoting peace and stability in the Indo-­Pacific region by fostering the Atlantic–Pacific partnership.

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Timothy Smyth
Timothy Smyth
11 ก.ย. 2566

Two questions in response to your and Garvan's article? To what extent if any do you think it is official or unofficial policy in the EU-27 especially France to break or bust the US-UK special relationship and if so what do you think are the odds of success of any such attempt? Second what impact do you think post-Brexit economic decline or stagnation will have on the US-UK special relationship and the UK's usefulness to the US as an ally.

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