What will be Britain’s post-Brexit role in the world?
Does leaving the EU mean we are now free to forge more truly ‘global relationship’ with other countries and regions in other parts of the world?
This is an important question for students studying the A-level option in Global Development and should be of general interest to any student studying globalisation.
The Integrated Review
In March 2021 the UK Government published what has become known as the ‘Integrated Review‘ which considered what Britains’ post-Brexit role in the world might be in the future.
The full title was the natty: ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’.
Boris Johnson and other pro-Brexit politicians are necessarily optimistic about the capacity of the Britain to still be influential in global politics, and take a leading role in the areas of climate change, science and technology and diplomacy, but how realistic are these goals?
World leaders in Science and Technology
The development of Covid-Vaccines has demonstrated that Britain is the world leader in genetic sequencing and the development of new vaccines, and we are world leaders in the life-sciences more generally.
However, ironically, a lot of our funding for scientific research has been cut now we have left the EU and the British government isn’t going to make up the short fall.
And besides life-sciences there is serious competition from other countries in most other fields of science and technology.
So while we have our ‘niche’ at the moment, this future role is far from guaranteed.
Britain is hosting COP26 in Glasgow in November, and the integrated review puts tackling climate change at the top of its priorities list.
Britain has a reasonably good track record on reducing emissions and could be well placed to bring other countries on board in more global efforts to deal with climate change.
We are still one of the largest aid donors in the world, but the government recently announced it was cutting the aid budget from 0.7% of GPD to 0.5% of GPD, and this will have immediate consequences in the countries whose aid budgets are reduced.
It seems like a terrible time to have cut the aid budget if we wish to have a credible claim to this being one of our main roles in the world.
We have also recently forged a partnership with Indian companies who manufacture our vaccines in India
A world leader in diplomacy
The report points out that Britain is one of the best connected nations on earth – it has a seat in every global institution and strong diplomatic ties with many other countries.
There is scope for the UK to become a world leader in settling conflict and solving global problems.
Although this is maybe a bit vague?
Britain has long been a haven for those seeking refuge from oppressive regimes (at least ever since after colonialism when Britain was the oppressive regime) and IF we were to shun China and Russia we could take on a role as a defender of civil liberties, although the government’s draconian response to Covid-19 suggests we are a long way off being a model in this regard.
Foreign Policy as a response to China
Analysis has suggested that the whole of the Integrated Review is a response to China’s increasing power.
It seems that the general gist is to forge better relations with China and acknowledge they exist – hence the current 20 000 mile round trip being made by
HOWEVER, foreign policy in the future seems to be more about fostering relations with other powerful countries and leaving China (and Russia) on the other side of the equation.
We are actively pursing more commercial ties with India for example, and huge numbers of Indian students are increasingly coming to study in UK Universities, while decreasingly so from China.
We also invited India, South Korea and Australia to the G7 meeting we hosted in June 2021 and there is talk of expanding this to the G10.
Too little focus on Europe?
it’s worth noting that the report only has 10 lines devoted to Europe, and we’re probably going to have to spend a lot more effort than this dealing with our neighbours in the future!
While this isn’t the most obvious topic for students of A-level sociology it’s worth considering as part of studying globalisation – probably most relevant to ‘political globalisation‘, and hopefully this post gives you few ideas of how Britain’s role is changing globally.
This post is mainly a summary of this analysis Podcast from BBC radio 4.
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