Global Britain and Levelling Up: Strengthening the UK’s Democracy, Resilience and Security

This new report explores the key areas of alignment between the UK’s two major international and domestic renewal projects – Global Britain and Levelling Up – and demonstrates how, both conceptually and practically, these could work together in a mutually beneficial way. In doing so, this report aims to spark a vibrant new public conversation about how best to consolidate and advance the strengthening of our resilience at home and abroad.

Authored by the BFPG’s Director, Sophia Gaston, the report argues that investing in the nation’s digital capabilities and the net-zero transition will not only enhance our national security and collective resilience, but will help to drive the local economic growth central to achieving the Levelling Up agenda. At the same time, building a more prosperous, equitable and cohesive society, underpinned by a well-functioning and inclusive economy and democratic institutions, must be the foundational underpinnings of a successful Global Britain project.


-The UK possesses some distinct advantages in adapting to the 21st Century security paradigm, including world-leading universities, a dynamic innovation culture, a cultural instinct towards openness, and a stable and effective regulatory environment. But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels as the nature and scope of threats shift and proliferate.

-Addressing our structural economic and social weaknesses at home – including regional inequalities, drags on our productivity, and asymmetrical education and skills outcomes – will help us to become more completive and resilient in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

-There will be particular dividends to supporting talent pipelines into industries critical to our national security, as well as digital technologies, and ‘green’ jobs – careers which are also likely to be more sustainable into the future.

-Integrating our domestic and international ambitions, giving Britons a more direct and visible stake in the globalised economy, and helping citizens to understand their individual role in the nation’s security, will be crucial foundations to building public consent for an active, open and engaged Britain in the world.

-Given many of our closest allies are facing similar domestic and international challenges, we should extend the framework of international cooperation outside of its traditional parameters, to also consider the future of democratic governance, social cohesion in open societies, and the provision of critical national infrastructure – as a matter of collective resilience.


Recommendations for Taking Domestic-International Integration Forward

  1. The integration of domestic and international policy must be pursued whole-heartedly and underpinned by a centralised form of policy oversight at the heart of government.
  2. The UK Government must integrate Global Britain objectives into the DNA of the Levelling Up agenda, ensuring the security and openness the British people require do not fall into competition, and giving more Britons a stake in the globalised economy.
  3. Preventative and tactical approaches to foreign policy will reduce the costly burden of reactivity and endlessly needing to seek renewed consent.
  4. The British people need to feel represented, understood and connected to their foreign policy. The Government, and the foreign policy community as a whole, must start directly engaging with the British people.
  5. Levelling Up must extend beyond the archetypal narrative of the ‘left behinds’ and recognise insecurities and disengagement among less visible groups, including women, the young, and ethnic minorities.

Sophia Gaston

Sophia is the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group.