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Foreign Policy Foreign Policy

Maintain the historical, cultural and economic ties that link us to our allies

Last updated: 03:04pm 22 November 2019

Alongside our proposed deep and special partnership with the European Union, we will maintain the historical, cultural and economic ties that link us to our old friends and allies around the globe.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.38

Our verdict

In December 2018, the Select Committee on International Relations published a report which provides helpful context for this policy. It demonstrated various challenges in international relations, including worldwide disruption and change, the emerging roles of China and Russia and increasing pressure between the UK and the US. In light of these and other shifting economic and power relationships, this policy aims to maintain existing links with “old friends and allies around the globe”. Maintaining any relationship requires work, so we are looking for ‘active’ maintenance efforts to fulfil this promise.

After this pledge, the manifesto indicates a number of targeted foreign policies, which we track separately. However, we consider four of these as necessary steps towards completing this promise, namely:

With regards to economic ties, by the end of parliament the UK has signed 19 continuity deals with extra-european countries, accounting for about 8% of previous international economic activity. To put things in context, under the European Union, the UK is part of 40 deals with 70 countries. A deal with the United States was mentioned in June 2019. However, it did not come to fruition.

Historical ties with the WTO, UN and NATO were maintained, and the UK acted as a champion against child abuse and modern slavery in global forums with developing nations, as well as implementing the GREAT campaign on a global scale. On the other hand, the government failed to change the definition of ‘Official Development Assistance’, while increasing its expenditure in foreign aid by 5.2% since 2017.

The government’s term of office is over, and although work has been done in each of these areas, for various reasons, not least the ongoing Brexit saga, those polices are not ‘Done’. Consequently, this policy remains ‘In progress’.

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