FCO’s ‘Global Britain’ slogan lacks substance, warn MPs

MPs call for submissions on the Foreign Office’s capability to lead revamped foreign policy following Brexit as inquiry continues

Photo: PA

By John Johnston

12 Mar 2018

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's post-Brexit 'Global Britain' slogan looks like a “superficial branding exercise” and needs to be more precisely defined, a group of influential MPs has warned.

The ‘Global Britain' strategy lacks substance, resources or clear priorities, a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee concluded.

The report added that the aims of the phrase have not been precisely defined by the FCO, and that during evidence sessions government ministers had been unable to set out what the policy meant.


Failure to clarify the position could be damaging to the UK's ability to influence world affairs after Brexit, according to MPs, who issued the report as part of an ongoing inquiry into Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy.

"If Global Britain comes to be perceived as a superficial branding exercise, it risks undermining UK interests by damaging our reputation overseas and eroding support for a global outlook here at home," it read.

"For the UK to demonstrate genuine global leadership, its foreign policy requires coherent strategic direction, supported by adequate resources."

Committee chair Tom Tugendhat urged the prime minister to further explain the intention of the strategy in a keynote speech in the House of Commons.

“The committee agrees that the time is right to take stock of the UK’s place in the world," he said.

"As we prepare to leave the EU, it is vital that we set out our stall. But to demonstrate global leadership, we need a clear statement of objectives and priorities and a commitment to the sufficient resources to achieve them."

He added: “The UK is a global player, but a slogan is not a policy and the country needs a clear strategy to shape our actions or we risk damaging our reputation overseas and eroding support for a global outlook at home.

"Ministers need to show that the idea of ‘Global Britain’ means more than a continuation of the FCO’s current activities and is instead a targeted, resourced plan. In the meantime, the committee will continue to pursue aspects of Global Britain through a series of inquiries.”

According to the report, the FCO had undertaken a specific assessment of the government’s ability to deliver on the Global Britain pledge as part of the National Security Capability Review. This was completed by a cross-government team of officials, and the department said ‘Global Britain’ is shorthand for the government’s determination to continue to be a successful global foreign policy player, and to resist any sense that Britain will be less engaged in the world in the next few years.

The committee also announced it would undertake a further stage of its inquiry to consider what would be needed to make Global Britain a credible strategy, and to determine what metrics against which the success of Global Britain can be assessed, and whether the approach differs from previous approaches to UK foreign policy.

The committee is also seeking written evidence, by 16 April, on the capacity of FCO and other relevant government departments to deliver upon Global Britain. ​

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