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Can Britain master the art of diplomacy in a disordered world?

Covid and geopolitical shifts have conspired to wreak diplomatic havoc. But we can still wield influence, says a former ambassador  

By Stephen Wall  

Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth/DPA/PA Images

One thing that Covid-19 has knocked on the head is the Ferrero Rocher side of the ambassador business: the elegant reception which, for many, will be all the word “diplomacy” conjures in their minds. Insofar as diplomacy is about representation, flying the flag of your country, showing who you are and why your country matters are a significant part of the business. But the champagne glass is a distorting prism. Yes, diplomacy is a contact sport, but its principal stock in trade is knowledge and influence.

When the French socialists under François Mitterrand won power in 1981, many of…

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