BFPG Event Summary: The UK election and foreign policy – Brexit & Beyond

On Friday June 2nd, 2017, the British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG), in partnership with Birmingham City University, held a national foreign policy event in advance of the general election. The discussion was free to attend and open to all, bringing in an audience ranging from business and civil society to academia, with people from the West Midlands, London, and other areas from all across the UK. This event represented the start of the British Foreign Policy Group’s National Engagement Program, which aims to create greater national engagement on foreign policy, with a focus on reaching out to the British public beyond solely London.

The discussion took place over two morning sessions. The first discussion consisted of an overview of BFPG national foreign policy polling carried out by BMG Research. Tom Cargill, BFPG’s Executive Director presented the report, Dr Michael Turner from BMG Research explained some of the more striking and intriguing results of the polling, and BCU lecturers Dr Stefania Palidini and Arantxa Gomez looked at the data in light of a specific case study involving the UK’s defence capabilities and Gibraltar.

To read the BFPG analysis and view the data in full please click here.

International affairs has played a role during this election campaign, but not a sufficient one given its importance to all of us. The second panel, consisting of Baroness Smith, Crispin Blunt, and Geoff Hoon provided perspectives from the 3 main political parties although without taking overly formalised party political lines. They discussed what the UK’s foreign policy prospects are- including Brexit, but also talking about how we protect our borders, safety, prosperity and world influence after this general election and after we leave the European Union.

The second discussion raised a number of issues, some of the key ones debated are listed below:

  • What would a hung parliament mean for our foreign policy?
  • What role do the newly elected Metro-Mayors have in our foreign policy?
  • Low funding for foreign affairs, what are the impacts?
  • Brexit – What does no deal mean, and what does a bad deal mean?
  • Will immigration targets affect our success in securing trade deals?
  • Does/Should Brexit mean more protectionism?


Audio of Second Panel

Baroness Smith – Liberal Democrat Peer, former member of House of Lords Select Committee on International Relations– Initial Remarks

Crispin Blunt – Conservative Candidate for Reigate and former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee – Initial Remarks

Geoff Hoon – Former Labour Defence Secretary – Initial Remarks

1st half of Question and Answer session, with responses from Baroness Smith, Crispin Blunt, and Geoff Hoon

2nd half of Question and Answer session, with responses from Baroness Smith, Crispin Blunt, and Geoff Hoon

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the BFPG. The BFPG is an independent not for profit organisation that encourages constructive, informed and considered opinions without taking an institutional position on any issue.
Edward Elliott

Edward Elliott is a Senior Associate at the British Foreign Policy Group.