University of Bath

British Foreign Policy after Brexit

Lord Owen discusses the opportunities Brexit presents to Britain on the global stage.

18 Jan 20185.15pm
18 Jan 20187.00pm
British Foreign Policy after Brexit
British Foreign Policy after Brexit

On Thursday 18 January, former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen will speak at the University of Bath on the topic of British foreign policy after Brexit. Drawing on his recent book of the same title, co-authored with former diplomat David Ludlow, Lord Owen will explore how Britain’s global role can be enhanced after it leaves the European Union.

Abstract: Former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, who backed leaving the EU, argues that Britain’s global role and influence can be enhanced, rather than diminished, post-Brexit. He will examine what lies ahead, encompassing a diplomatic, security, development and trade agenda based on hard-headed realism.

Lord Owen sees Britain’s continuing commitment to global security as key, and will recommend that the Government should announce as soon as possible that they will increase the defence budget to 2.5% of GDP by 2022. This is not an impossible target, given the Government’s commitment to inflation-proof defence over the next five years and the National Security Council’s new decision-making over the budgets of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development. It would send a hugely positive signal that Obama and Trump's charge that European countries are ‘freeloading’ will not apply to the UK.

Money talks and the UK's deployment to Estonia reinforces that message, Lord Owen maintains. He will argue that the UK should not be distracted by European Union defence initiatives. It should concentrate geographically and in equipment on hard defence in Europe, and contribute its two aircraft carriers as the basis for a rapid reaction force worldwide at the disposal of NATO or the UN. But the UK should accept its limitations and focus its diplomatic activity on issues where it has specific experience, he will conclude, such as the Law of the Sea, and in defining a global presence that it can afford and sustain.