01:01 GMT +320 October 2017
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    Level Talk with John Harrison

    Shifts in UK Foreign Policy After the General Election?

    Level Talk with John Harrison
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    John Harrison
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    The political landscape is still very much shifting in the United Kingdom but one thing that can be safely said is that the political middle ground has moved further left. What does this mean in terms of Britain’s foreign policy?

    Dr Mervyn Bain, Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen and Ian Shields OBE, lecturer in International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University (UK) join the program.

    Both Dr Bain and Ian Shields think that Theresa May’s present insistence on maintaining a ‘Hard Brexit’ policy will have to change. Ian Shields points put that the political landscape of Northern Europe has changed with Macron’s victory and Angela Merkel reinforcement of Germany’s position. This is bringing about a rejuvenation of the France-Germany axis which lies at the core of the European project. “So all the doom mongers predictions of Brexit being followed by Nexit and so on are a little bit premature, if not completely off the table.”

    In regards to Russia, both speakers do not feel that Britain’s policy towards Russia is likely to change significantly. Dr Bain says that the final form of Brexit will affect Britain’s relationship with other countries, including Russia. Ian Shields comments that it is only trade which is being discussed now, but the position of Britain within NATO after Brexit. All of this will affect Britain’s relationship with Russia. Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with America is very much under doubt now, and that relationship is made more difficult to understand, Ian Shields says, because of the present incumbent to the White House, who appears to be more interested in making America Great rather than engaging on the international arena ij the same way that America did in the past.

    For Britain, the real argument, Ian Shields says, is whether Britain wants to remain an Atlanticist or European nation. It seems that Britain wishes to keep a foot in both camps. However the idea of Britain being a bridge between the two camps, an unsinkable aircraft carrier, may be questionable given the background of a weakened country, and an American foreign policy which is difficult to discern.

    As regards the Middle East, in particular Syria, Dr Bain feels that he sees Britain’s policy carrying on as it is now unless America’s policy becomes more extreme. All of this will change fundamentally, not only in regards to the Middle East but in terms of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other hotspots, if Jeremy Corbyn takes power.

    A possible and existential shift of the UK’s foreign policy in regard to other areas of the world is also discussed, however the overriding message conveyed by both guests is that under Theresa May, any foreign policy changes will be moderate. Those people wishing to see major changes should perhaps be considering what will happen if and when Jeremy Corbyn takes power.

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    Tags:
    UK foreign policy, UK General Election 2017, Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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