British Foreign Secretary William Hague surprisingly quit his post with Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond being appointed as a new head of the Foreign Office. William Hague’s resignation can further complicate Britain’s strained relations with the European Union. Phillip Hammond is known as an outspoken opponent of Britain’s’ EU membership.
Tamila Lankina, Associate Professor, International relations department, London School of Economics.
— How is the news of William Hague’s resignation perceived in the UK? Did it come as a surprise to many people there?
— I think it's about the way the news has been interpreted. That reshuffle is about sending a domestic message to domestic constituency as well as a message to the EU in Europe. In terms of domestic constituency is about a signal to a government. This anticipation of the election is coming up next May in the UK. The government is very nervous that the conservatives were nervous about strong independence party. So, it’s very much to attempt to prevent possible vote growing. But also we shouldn’t forget there is also a kind of more conservative, more skeptics in the Conservative Party itself. So, in terms of the message that the government sent to Europe. It’s very clear, because you see a number of heavy heating pro European Union individuals. It’s not actually about the UK relations with the European Union, but also with the other very important European entities: Council of Europe and the European codex of Human rights.
About Cameron’s team
— I think it’s a mixed legacy, but he has been, for instance, unjustly criticized. In my view, some criticisms were quite unjust. He is a very effective politician. In terms of Britain commitment and European Convention Human rights, yes, there is some criticism.
About Mr. Hammond
— So, his position is very clear. But I do remember a horrible airplane crash. And it is on everybody’s mind. It’s a terrible tragedy in Europe. And I wonder whether obviously this shuffle happens before tragic events. I wonder whether that would be a bit of a wake-up in terms of skeptic position that Mr. Hammond has clearly articulated. Because clearly if Britain find themselves isolated with Europe, it will not be on a position to save the common security, common foreign policy, common respond to such awful European tragedies. I’d say that these latest catastrophe actually will change the European Union on position on a crisis in Ukraine and involving separatists and rebels in Ukraine. So, at this point, we don’t know who was to blame. But it’s very important clearly for Britain to recognize. The sutiation like this is very important to be a part of a common strategy and responds to this kind of European crisis, actually global crisis.