Who We Are
The British Foreign Policy Group is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to advancing the UK’s global influence, at a crucial time in the nation’s modern history. To achieve this, we produce dynamic events and high-quality research, and facilitate networks amongst stakeholders with a vested interest in Britain’s international engagement. We are a neutral, but politically minded convenor – with a sophisticated understanding of the realities of the political landscape, without being bound by the constraints of legacy structures and partisan ideologies.
We support Britain as a strong, engaged and influential global actor. We promote democratic values, liberal societies, and the power of multilateralism – and we recognise Britain’s critical international responsibility to uphold and extend these throughout the world.
Our core objective is to bridge the link between the domestic and international spheres – recognising that Britain’s foreign policy choices and challenges are shaped by our social landscape at home, and the political constraints of our allies and the autocratic states that challenge our interests. We appreciate the paradox that Britain must define its global image, at a time when it has never in modern history been more divided at home.
The foreign policy community in Britain, and the West more broadly, can no longer function effectively without a deep understanding of the social and economic dimensions influencing political choices on the world stage – including the forces driving nationalism, protectionism and isolationism. BFPG works between the corridors of power, the UK’s regions and constituent nations, and the voices of ordinary citizens, to promote the connectivity and understanding needed to reshape and underpin Britain’s strategic advantage.
Through our work on the ground across the UK, we seek to promote synergy between the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ and ‘Global Britain’ agendas, to ensure they can work together in a complementary and powerful way, rather than standing in competition.
The UK Soft Power Group
We believe that Britain’s soft power assets are a crucial instrument for British influence and engagement abroad, and therefore must play an important role in the Global Britain project. Along with the British Council, the British Foreign Policy Group is now convening the UK Soft Power Group, a new body providing advice to government on half of leading cultural, higher education, financial, regulatory and sporting organisations and institutions.
1. Britain’s Global Relationships
The UK’s departure from the EU opens the opportunity to forge new international relationships, and also necessitates us to strengthen those that have been strained or neglected. Our new era, however, coincides with a dramatic renegotiation of the world order – with the rise of China, and new forms of cooperation amongst autocratic states, challenging the established Western hegemonic power. This research programme will consider how Britain should approach and prioritise its existing and new international relationships, including where bilateralism and multilateralism can help to achieve our strategic interests and uphold liberal values.
2. Britain’s Global Leadership
The UK is a medium-sized advanced democracy, with top tier assets in a number of areas. Part of the exercise of reimagining our global role, will be to take a frank and honest assessment of our capabilities and our opportunities for leadership. In a changing world order, Britain’s economic, military and diplomatic eminence will be challenged – however, the evolving nature of the international landscape also presents opportunities that play to our strengths. In particular, Britain’s inherent capabilities in governance, administration, regulation, technological innovation and research, can be applied to addressing complex international challenges, and asserting our liberal democratic values on new global systems and forms of power. This research programme will critically examine our strengths and weaknesses in the 2020s and beyond, and identify priority areas for UK investment.
3. Britain’s Global Challenges
Britain’s new global era comes at a time of significant global challenges, and a period in which traditional forms of multilateralism are often feeling strained or ineffectual. This programme will explore Britain’s approach to safeguarding itself against emerging global threats, including our relations with hostile states, and how we can equip our foreign service and military to harness world-leading systems and intelligence. It will also consider the British role and responsibility in tackling climate change, the challenges of managing global migration, and other areas compelling regional or international responses.
4. The Social Dimensions of UK Foreign Policy and Global Affairs
Foreign policy has long been considered principally the terrain of Whitehall corridors, outside of the purview of ordinary Britons. However, the evolving nature of public attitudes towards and demands from our political system mean that citizens are increasingly becoming more involved and more consulted in our policy-making environment. Moreover, much of the dysfunction in global relationships and inertia in international activities amongst Western democracies reflects changing social dynamics within those nations. It is therefore vital to understand the domestic social landscape in which Britain’s foreign policy is being formed – as well as the wider dynamics taking place within the domestic landscapes of our allies and foes, and their international consequences.
The British Foreign Policy Group is a not-for-profit organisation. We accept organisational and project-based funding from institutions, foundations and individuals that share our values, and which accept our mandate for full editorial independence.
We are proud to have received our initial capital from Strategy International, and are now working to develop partnerships with a range of partners in government, foundational trusts and charities, and the private sector. We appreciate how important transparency is to the trust and legitimacy of the research sector, and will always stipulate where projects have been supported by specific funders – for example, our National Engagement Programme is a partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.
As a fundamental principle, we will not accept funding from states or embassies working on behalf of non-democratic regimes or against the democratic interests of the United Kingdom.