Variable Geometry: Global Britain’s Opportunity Post-Brexit - by former diplomat Nick Busvine

In this article dated 16th January 2021, former diplomat Nick Busvine argues that we are already seeing positive signs of a more coherent and influential foreign policy as Global Britain begins to exploit the freedom of manoeuvre offered by Brexit.


‘Freedom is what you make it’, declared Boris Johnson shortly after agreeing his government’s Christmas Eve deal with the EU. At the risk of being accused of boosterism, I for one am excited by the opportunity that lies ahead for the UK to develop a rather more effective and dynamic foreign policy than hitherto, that serves both the national interest and – in partnership with others – common global goals.


As one of our BfB editors, the historian Professor Robert Tombs, has frequently pointed out, the UK ruling class has been internally wracked by ‘declinism’ since the Second World War. Despite economic evidence to the contrary, it has been repeatedly argued that the UK is doomed to play an ever-decreasing role in world affairs – at best as a second rank player.


During my time as a diplomat, we were repeatedly warned by the powers that be that leaving the EU would cut the UK adrift into a global sea of troubles that would, sooner or later, be bound to overwhelm us. The contrary view, of course, is that getting things done and achieving positive impact requires confidence, vision and determination.


For the full article here it is in pdf:

Article by Nick Busvine for Briefings fo
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By way of contrast, here is another article published on the 18th January by the New York Times entitled:


For One British Industry, Brexit’s Red Tape Is Just Beginning


For nearly a century the firm of Teal & Mackrill in the port city of Hull in northeast England has made paints for special applications, like fishing trawlers and factory floors. It produces marine paint, for example, with ingredients to prevent barnacles from encrusting hulls.


Now in a little-noticed consequence of the new Brexit trade deal, the company is facing real concerns about its future. Geoff Mackrill, the third member of his family to helm the company, said that growing British regulatory burdens on chemicals may mean that eventually he won’t be able to obtain some of the additives that make his paints distinctive.


“The worry is that some of those materials that we use,” he said, “may become unavailable because of those costs.”


It is a concern that is spread across Britain’s £33 billion (or about $45 billion) a year chemical industry.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when he announced the trade deal on Dec. 24, said Britain would now be free “to set our own standards, to innovate in the way that we want.” Business people like Mr. Mackrill were relieved that Britain had avoided a chaotic exit and that goods made in Britain could continue to cross over to Europe free of tariffs.


But some companies, notably in the chemical industry, are finding that business has become more complex rather than easier. The European Union’s elaborate and burdensome regulations may no longer apply inside Britain, but they remain a fact of life for British firms like Mr. Mackrill’s that wish to continue selling their goods in Europe.


For the full article here it is in pdf:

Article for the New York Times by Stanle
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