Who we are and what we do

“Supporting greater public understanding of the UK’s foreign policy choices”


The British Foreign Policy Group provides fresh thinking and accessible, objective information on the UK’s foreign policy choices and why they matter to everybody in the UK. In doing so the BFPG is building important links between British civil society, policy makers, business, media and other stakeholders on how the UK might make the most of its considerable assets in support of common security and prosperity.


Public debate in Britain around the recent referendums on European Union membership and Scottish independence illustrates the poor quality of understanding and engagement on UK foreign policy issues. Sources of independent information are insufficiently accessible, making it hard for people to understand how the UK’s international position and choices impacts our everyday lives, which in turn undermines the quality of national debate on foreign policy priorities, including the complex interplay between trade, diplomatic and security interests.

BFPG has two main roles:

1. Meeting the need for innovative and independent foreign policy ideas for post-Brexit United Kingdom. The BPFG will catalyse a new focus on the direction the UK’s foreign policy should be taking.


2. Engaging groups across the United Kingdom including in civil society, academia, media, business and policy, to promote informed and evidence-led engagement on the UK’s international position and choices.


The BFPG is an independent not for profit organisation that encourages constructive, informed and considered opinions without taking an institutional position on any issue.

Honorary Presidents

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Sir Simon Fraser GCMG

Sir Simon is a founder and managing director of Flint Global, a business advisory firm. He is also one of the founding trustees of the Patchwork Foundation, a newly established charity which works to promote and encourage the positive integration of under-represented, deprived and minority communities into British democracy and civil society. He is also Deputy Chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). In his public service career, Sir Simon was the Head of the UK Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service, and before that he led the UK Department for Business and held a succession of senior roles in the British Government and the European Commission. He was the UK Civil Service Champion for Inclusion and Diversity.


The Rt Hon Gisela Stuart

Gisela has a wealth of experience in politics, with a particular concern to ensure UK foreign policy reflects and protects the interests of citizens across the UK.  Gisela is Chair of Change Britain, an organisation set up to make a success of Britain’s exit of the EU. During the European Referendum campaign in 2016 she was Chair of the Vote Leave campaign. Previously she was the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 until she stood down in 2017.  As an MP, amongst other things, she was on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Defence Select Committee, and Intelligence and Security Committee.


Tom Cargill
Tom Cargill is the Executive Chair of the British Foreign Policy Group. He has worked in various roles in the public, private and NGO sectors, including at the charity for children in care Believe, as well as 10 years at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) followed by 4 years at the engineering, procurement and construction multinational Bechtel. He is the author of numerous reports, chapters and articles on international and foreign policy issues. Tom has been at the British Foreign Policy Group since he set it up in 2016.

Staff and Leadership


Sophia Gaston – Managing Director
Sophia is the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group, an independent think tank focusing on advancing knowledge and debate around Britain’s international affairs.

Sophia is a social and political researcher, who conducts international projects on public opinion, specialising in both qualitative fieldwork and quantitative analysis. Her work is especially focused on social and political change, populism, the media and democracy – with a focus on threats to governance in Western nations.

Sophia is also a Research Fellow in the Institute for Global Affairs at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an Academic Fellow at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

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Flora Holmes – Researcher

Flora Holmes is a Researcher at the British Foreign Policy Group. She is a graduate in Global Politics, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics, having studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford. Flora worked in Westminster and in the External Policies directorate of the European Parliament in Brussels before joining the BFPG.


Edward Elliott – Senior Associate
Edward Elliott is a Senior Associate at the British Foreign Policy Group. He is a graduate in politics, international relations, French, and law, having studied at Durham University and Sciences Po. Fluent in Spanish as well as French, he has an international background, having worked in France, Spain, England, and Slovakia before joining the BFPG as a researcher and helping establish the organisation. He is also an author of policy reports and articles on a wide range of foreign policy issues.


Sofia Cogliano – Programme Coordinator

Sofia Cogliano is Programme Coordinator for BFPG Student Ambassadors across the UK. Sofia graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a joint honours degree in International Relations & Law. She is currently working toward a Masters in Global Political Economy at Stockholm University. Sofia was previously a BFPG Student Ambassador and recently completed a placement at the BFPG as a Researcher during the first year of her Masters.

Advisory Directors


Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson is chief financial officer and director of Bechtel Group, Inc., a leading engineering, project management and construction company. He also serves as executive sponsor of the corporate services including Bechtel Enterprises (Bechtel’s project financing and development arm), Corporate Affairs, IS&T, and Security. A UK citizen, Peter joined Bechtel in 1978 in London, and has held a wide range of commercial and operational leadership roles including recently as head of the global infrastructure division. Peter is married with two children, and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in natural sciences from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge University. He currently serves on the Campaign Board for the University and Colleges of Cambridge, and the Board of Cambridge in America.


Peter O’Kane
Peter chairs the Strategy International Group, which, among other things, owns the long-established private business networks, The D Group and British Expertise. Both organisations’ members operate at the forefront of the UK’s international trading challenges. A life-long internationalist, his career has taken him around the globe. Following his MA at Cambridge he worked for John Swire in Hong Kong, Australia and The Philippines. Years in financial services saw him practise in The City, the US and Scandinavia, returning to the East, notably China, Korea and SE Asia, when he took over Crosby a leading pan-Asian investment banking business. Since its sale he has focused on a range of finance and UK technology businesses, assuming the chairmanship of Strategy in 2014.


Associates are a network of experts in different aspects of UK foreign policy, managed by the BFPG full time staff. Their role is to provide occasional expertise and advice, write articles and undertake other activities that are consistent with the objectives of the BFPG.


Paul Forrest

Paul is Director and Head of Research at the Midlands Economic Forum (), and a Visiting Professor of Economic Analysis at Birmingham City University. Prior to establishing the WMEF, Paul worked globally as an economist for over 20 years in the City Of London, for British, Japanese and Russian financial institutions.


Dr Victoria Honeyman

Victoria is a lecturer in British Politics at the University of Leeds. Her specialism is in British foreign policy – she has written extensively on the foreign policy objectives of both the Conservative and Labour Parties. She is also the BISA Foreign Policy Working Group Convenor.


Professor Juliet Kaarbo

Juliet is a Professor of Foreign Policy at the University of Edinburgh and  Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Security Research

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Sam Goodman

Sam Goodman is a foreign policy expert and writer, author of the book The Imperial Premiership: The role of the modern Prime Minister in foreign policy making, 1964-2015. He is also a political adviser at the Labour Party.


David Adam

David is Founding Director of GlobalCities, a consultancy that provides thought-leadership on Cities and Globalisation, helping cities to examine economic, demographic, and technological trends and position themselves in global markets. He has experience in delivering major projects with cities across multiple international markets, including many high visibility cultural and brand initiatives for London.


Giles French

Giles is Assistant Director, Economic Development Office at the City of London Corporation.

Advisory Group

The British Foreign Policy Group benefits from support of a small advisory group which provides advice and external perspectives on our work. Current members are:


Cat Tully
Cat Tully is founder of FromOverHere, advocating “system stewardship” and emergent strategic planning, and School Of International Futures, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at promoting the use of strategic foresight. She designs and convenes interventions aimed at disseminating a better approach to decision-making and action-taking. Cat advises and teaches, including at Moscow’s Presidential Academy for Public Administration and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 Advisory Panel. Previously, she was Strategy Project Director at the UK FCO and Policy Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.


Richard Whitman
Professor Richard G. Whitman is Professor of Politics and International Relations in the School of Politics and International Relations. He is also Director of the Global Europe Centre. He is currently an ESRC Senior Fellow on its UK in a Changing Europe initiative. Professor Whitman is also a Senior Visiting Fellow at Chatham House (formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs) and an Academic Fellow at the European Policy Centre. He regularly writes and researches for think tanks.


Julie Chappell OBE
Julie is a Partner at Hawthorn Communications, as well as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Previously Julie Headed up the National Security Council’s Emerging Powers Strategy, and the GREAT Britain campaign team at the FCO. During her career with the FCO Jules had postings in London, Guatemala City, Addis Ababa, Washington DC, Baghdad and Amman. Between 2009 and 2012 Julie served as Britain’s youngest ever Ambassador, and in 2004 was awarded the OBE for her work helping women to enter politics in post-war Iraq.


Richard Cockett
Richard Cockett is a journalist, author and former academic, currently staff writer and British Business Editor at the Economist magazine. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including on Burma and Sudan, as well as a number of important themes in UK public life over the past 70 years.


Elizabeth Linder

Elizabeth Linder is the Executive Director of Global Communications and External Affairs at Beautiful Destinations, spearheading the company’s approach to digital diplomacy as it applies to the travel sector.  Elizabeth is also the Founder of the Conversational Century and Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House. She advises heads of state, government officials, executive management teams and civil society leaders on mastering the art of conversation in the digital age across more than 40 countries including Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. She previously founded and built Facebook’s Politics and Government division for the EMEA region, heading the team from London during the Arab Spring as new political parties challenged the status quo and political content on Facebook dominated conversations.  Elizabeth started her career at Google/YouTube on the Global Communications and Public Policy team.


Andrew Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell is currently Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Europe. Andrew brings 25 years’ experience leading organisations in both the public and private sector in the UK and overseas. Most recently he was the director of a British creative and communications agency with clients among Olympic bid cities and major Games hosts. He has previously held leadership positions in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including as lead director for economic and trade issues and spent four years as HM Ambassador to Sweden.

Student Ambassador Programme

As of the 2018-19 academic year, the BFPG has approximately 50 student ambassadors.


The BFPG student ambassadors come from universities across the UK, as part of the BFPG’s efforts to increase national engagement with foreign policy issues. The universities of the current student ambassadors are: the University of Birmingham, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Exeter, King’s College London, the University of Leeds, the University of Leicester and the University of Manchester.


Programme Coordinator — Sofia Cogliano (sa@bfpg.co.uk)


Strategy International

Strategy International is the holding company for three unique and complementary strategic business development organisations and their extensive UK and global networks; membership organisations, The D Group and British Expertise International and trade marketing specialist, Inspire Publishing. They are based in London, operate at Board and C level and are currently active in over 30 countries around the world, serving over 300 companies and institutions employing in excess of 7 million.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The FCO is a ministerial department of HM Government, supported by 10 agencies and public bodies. The FCO promotes the United Kingdom’s interests overseas, supporting UK citizens and businesses around the globe.

Universities UK International

UUKi is the international arm of Universities UK, representing UK universities and acting​ in their collective interests​ globally​. They actively promote universities abroad, provide trusted informa​tion for and about them, and create new opportunities for the sector.

If you are interested in the work of the group please contact us:


+44 (0) 207 318 9200