Living Up to a New Role in the World: The Challenges of “Global Britain”

Andrew Glencross, David McCourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theresa May promised a new role for the UK in the world, dubbed “Global Britain”. But what challenges and contradictions arise from being supposedly more open to the world while decoupling from the EU? To answer this question, it is necessary to explore how far the UK can live up to the expectations stemming from the move to celebrate a new, unabashedly global posture. An examination of the rhetoric of British foreign policy since 1945 is juxtaposed with the emerging language of global openness after Brexit to illustrate what change in expectations this move is likely to create among the UK’s partners for trade, security, and global governance. To evaluate the strategic benefits of using the rhetoric of globalism after EU withdrawal, we examine the British state’s capacity to find the combination of administrative resources, public expenditure, and elite consensus necessary to redefine the country’s position in world affairs.
Overall, this approach reveals numerous challenges for establishing a new framing of Britain’s role in international politics. It also demonstrates the serious contradictions arising from the fact that the language of domestic politics during and after the EU referendum is very much at odds with the spirit of globalism. The political expediency of devising a new role cannot be faulted, but the strategic value of “Global Britain” appears limited in the light of this analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-597
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date1 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


  • Global Britain
  • Brexit
  • UK foreign policy
  • European Union
  • anto-globalism


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