At a recent roundtable, politicians and experts including Barry Gardiner and John Whittingdale asked how we can remain a top international playerby Prospect Team / June 6, 2019 / Leave a comment
The world is in a moment of great uncertainty. The US is led by an unpredictable man with a hardline approach towards global institutions and rival powers. The US-China trade war risks destabilising the global economy. Meanwhile an emboldened Russia is seeking to expand its influence. Then there is Brexit. For good or ill, at a time of worldwide instability Britain is removing itself from a significant global bloc.
The question is how we can continue to play a leading role on the global stage going forward. Where best can Britain make a difference? What are the opportunities out there—and the risks? These were the questions discussed at a recent Prospect roundtable. The talk was chaired by Duncan Weldon and built on our recent supplement on the same themes.
For all participants, there was clear awareness of the challenges ahead. Weldon began by noting the turbulent world environment. Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North and Shadow International Trade Secretary, said “what we’ve got is huge shifts in the international tectonic plates… and we have chosen to cast ourselves adrift from one of those tectonic plates… we should have a very clear idea of how we propose to choreograph our movement.”
That is no small task for Britain. But get that choreography right and we can exert our influence.
Menna Rawlings of the Foreign Office summed up the mission. One plank “is trying to build, uphold, develop the rules-based international system.” Another is “standing up for our values of democracy, tolerance and liberty.” The third involves “maintaining an open and innovative economy” and projecting that outwards.
All three are of crucial importance and require collaboration with key partners. Yet with countries like China throwing their weight around, where exactly does Britain fit in? As John Whittingdale, former secretary of state for culture, media and sport and Conservative MP for Maldon put it, we cannot ignore the fact “they are going to be the biggest economic power in the world.”
For Gardiner, “Why do we not have a constructive offer to rival what they are doing?” Why have we not “got a response to Belt and Road,” the trillion-dollar infrastructure project? China is controversially…