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  • Writer's pictureTim Oliver

British Foreign Policy Must-Reads18 Sep-1 Oct: King in France, Net Zero, Labour, Immigration

Must-reads below from two weeks of UK foreign policy. While the King was in France talking, amongst other things, about the importance of working together to face environmental challenges, HM's PM was busy watering down the UK's commitments to net zero. Labour, meanwhile, have been busy exploring ideas about the UK's international relations. As a sign of things to come, the think tank, commentator and academic industries have been equally busy focusing on how Labour might handle international relations. And then there was the Home Secretary's speech to the AEI in Washington D.C. on immigration and the UNCR and which was a clear move to position herself for the Conservative leadership race due to start by early 2025 at the latest.

  1. France—Politico: King Charles calls to ‘reinvigorate’ ties between France and UK. The British monarch and Queen Camilla were treated to a star-studded banquet dinner at Versailles.

  2. France—FT: Emmanuel Macron rolls out red carpet for King Charles’ visit. Monarch’s three-day trip comes as Franco-British relationship is on stronger footing after tense Brexit period.

  3. Net Zero—Politico: King Charles calls for climate action 24 hours after Sunak’s net zero U-turn. Despite political noise over easing climate targets at home, British monarch tells French lawmakers it’s time for an ‘entente cordiale’ on the planet.

  4. Net Zero—Politico: Rishi Sunak weaponizes net zero as election looms. Business leaders and fellow Conservatives sound alarm over softening of green agenda.

  5. Net Zero—Guardian: Al Gore leads international chorus of disapproval for Sunak’s climate U-turn. Decision by UK prime minister to water down key climate policies ‘really shocking to me’, says former US vice-president.

  6. Net Zero—Guardian: UK absent from key international statement on climate action. Rishi Sunak accused of ‘disgusting betrayal of vulnerable people’ over net zero U-turn as he misses UN climate ambition summit.

  7. Energy—FT: UK streamlines planning for £20bn plan to bring power from Morocco. Xlinks project seeks 25-year contract with government to guarantee a fixed electricity price.

  8. Brexit—Politico: After Brexit, Britain and Europe embrace ever-closer union. Rishi Sunak has fundamentally changed the nature of the post-Brexit relationship.

  9. Brexit and CJEU—FT: UK fined by European Court of Justice in precedent-setting case. Higher than expected penalty by EU court highlights how bloc’s rules still apply due to N Ireland’s single market ties.

  10. Brexit and EV—FT: Germany leads push to delay electric vehicle tariffs between EU and UK. Berlin and carmakers back UK call for three-year pause on requirement for batteries to be produced locally.

  11. Brexit and agriculture—FT: Farming subsidies trigger row over future of British countryside. The government’s post-Brexit subsidy regime has left some farmers with less money than before.

  12. Brexit border checks—FT: New Brexit border checks to cost business £330mn a year. Minister’s letter to Labour MP sets out government forecast as companies warn of food price rises.

  13. Brexit Reviewing—UKICE: Reviewing the Trade and Cooperation Agreement: potential paths. Within the UK at least, many are looking to this review to deliver significant changes to the relationship. This report examines those provisions within the TCA and reflects on what might or might not reasonably be achieved in the context of the review. The report proposes three models which the review could follow: a technical check, acting on unfulfilled commitments, and widening the scope of the TCA.

  14. EPC—Telegraph: UK and Spain in row over Sunak demand for focus on illegal migration. Prime Minister wants European Political Community summit next week to make the issue its top priority.

  15. Labour and Brexit reset—FT: Can Keir Starmer reset Britain’s Brexit deal? Experts say Labour leader has limited how far UK’s trading relationship with EU can be improved.

  16. Labour—FT: Starmer needs to untangle Labour’s intentions on Europe. Wishful thinking is not enough to forge strategy on this most important plank of foreign policy.

  17. Labour and ‘Inner EU’—The Times: Plan for EU ‘inner circle’ designed to tempt Labour. France and Germany have tabled a plan for an “inner circle” of countries willing to sign up to radical integration in a blueprint featuring a new outer tier of EU membership for “even the UK”.

  18. Labour and divergence—Sky News: Brexit: 'We don't want to diverge' from EU, says Sir Keir Starmer. The Labour leader has signalled he plans a more dove-ish approach to Europe should he win the keys to Downing Street. But this new footage shows Sir Keir Starmer is prepared to go further than perhaps previously thought.

  19. Labour and EU—Guardian: Senior business leaders back Keir Starmer’s call not to ‘diverge’ from EU. Trade bodies join political figures in backing ‘policy of alignment with standards and regulations’ with bloc.

  20. Labour and the EU--CER: A European Strategy for Labour.

  21. Labour and the EU—Mujtaba Rahman on X: There's a lot of negativity about @Keir_Starmer trip to Paris today to see @EmmanuelMacron. A lot of “@UKLabour is delusional & don't understand EU” kind of thing. That it's all pointless given “no CU, no SM” redlines. That's premature. There's also a positive case to be made 1…

  22. Labour and Trump—Politico: Labour’s Keir Starmer: I’ll make it work if Donald Trump wins. Favorite to become Britain’s next prime minister says in a ‘grown-up world, you have to make that relationship work.’

  23. Labour and the Democrats—Mirror: Links between Labour and US Democrats revived as crunch election year looms. Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership has paved the way for tighter links with US Democrats ahead of next year’s crunch elections in Britain and America.

  24. Labour and Trident—Telegraph: The nuclear deterrent is part of Labour’s heritage. Our commitment to Nato and improving Britain’s security is unshakeable in this more dangerous world.

  25. Labour’s foreign policy—Politico: What Labour’s foreign policy should look like. Reconnecting Britain is at the heart of what needs to be done — but the strategy of “how” needs more thought.

  26. Lib Dems—BBC News: Voters aren’t talking about Brexit, says Lib Dem leader. Re-joining the European Union is currently "off the table", Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has said.

  27. Trade—IOD: Setting a Meaningful Export Target for Britain. The ease with which UK companies can sell goods and services abroad has moved centre stage in recent years as Britain debates the nature of its future trading relationship with the European Union and seeks to sign Free Trade Agreements with other jurisdictions. To signify its ambition, government has also, unusually, set a policy target of achieving exports worth £1 trillion per year by 2030. In this note we explore whether the £1 trillion headline target is appropriate and consider whether there are alternative measures that better capture what government export policy is trying to achieve. We conclude that because the current target is affected not only by inflation, but also by longer- term global economic trends, a preferable measure would be linked to the volume of trade and set at a level that takes account of trend growth rates. In addition, we also urge a second target: to increase the proportion of UK businesses that are exporters. Meaningful targets would enable parliament to better judge the success of government policy designed to support exporters, as well as providing government itself with a framework around which it can judge the effectiveness of different policy interventions.

  28. India trade deal—Politico: Rishi Sunak to sign UK-India trade deal without binding worker or environment pledges. Angry firms and trade unions fear being undercut and say they were shut out of Britain’s biggest trade talks.

  29. AI—RUSI: How China and the UK are Seeking to Shape the Global AI Discourse. While China has recently launched a ChatGPT alternative and become the first country to regulate generative AI, the UK is struggling to find a united voice ahead of its AI safety summit in November. Although both countries are determined to be leaders in AI technologies, the UK government has now confirmed that China will be invited to the summit to cooperate on the national security threats posed by AI.

  30. Autonomous weapons—RUSI: It is Time for the UK to Regulate AI Use in Autonomous Weapons Systems. The UK government is exploring new rules on the use of AI in weapons systems, including autonomous weapons systems. In doing so, it has an opportunity to follow the US’s lead, build a shared framework for allies and show moral leadership.

  31. Cost of drones—FT: Cost of UK’s new fleet of armed drones jumps 40%. First of 16 US-made Protector aircraft will enter service late next year as price rises to £1.8bn.

  32. UK-Canada-India—Politico: UK won’t stop India trade talks despite row over murder of Sikh leader. Britain is in negotiations over a UK-India trade deal.

  33. Trump 2.0—Politico: Can Europe Survive Trump 2.0? The Continent could face a US president who toyed with quitting NATO and pledged to strike a 'peace deal' with Russia.

  34. Immigration—The Times: Suella Braverman declares immigration a threat to the West. Home secretary hits out at ‘misguided dogma of multiculturalism’.

  35. UNRC—Byline Times: The UN Refugee Convention Should Be Reformed – But Not in the Way Suella Braverman Thinks. The UK could show global leadership by pushing for the international community to broaden its definition of refugees, writes former British diplomat Alexandra Hall Hall.

  36. UN—Chatham House: Why the UK should bring back UN youth delegates. During this period of major global challenges, the UK’s young people deserve directly elected youth representatives to make their voices heard at the heart of the multilateral system.

  37. Rise and Fall—New Statesman: The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers redux. The author of the 20th century’s most influential history book anticipates the coming world order.

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