Trying to take a snapshot of a country’s foreign policy at a particular moment is always a difficult proposition. In the case of the UK, it is all the more difficult to judge whether the government has lived up to the ambitions of a major new strategy for its international relations – the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy – just one year after its release. The multiple implications of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on 24 February 2022, add further layers of complexity.
But it was important to undertake this assessment, both to take stock of the early impacts of the strategy and to consider how it might need to adapt in light of the dynamic international context. There is also a lot of interest beyond the UK in seeing how Britain is navigating these stormy international seas as a more autonomous mid-sized power with extensive global interests and responsibilities.
I am very grateful, therefore, to my many Chatham House colleagues who took time out of their own busy schedules to support work on this paper. Special thanks to David Lawrence, who joined the institute only very recently as a research fellow for our new initiative studying the UK’s role in the world, and who provided extensive and invaluable input to the research behind this paper, including to the dataset and tables. Thanks also to Helen Parr and Angus Lapsley, who reviewed and offered very thoughtful comments and suggestions on the full draft of the paper. And, given the breadth of topics covered, I greatly appreciated, as always, my colleagues who provided detailed comments on specific sections, including Alice Billon-Galland, Creon Butler, Antony Froggatt, John Kampfner and Rob Yates.
I have benefited greatly from the expert editing of the Chatham House publications team, led for this project by Jo Maher. She and her colleagues – Vera Chapman Browne, Chris Matthews and Mike Tsang – worked long hours in a very compressed timeframe to enable us to get this paper to publication within our self-imposed deadline. They ensured the arguments flowed as coherently as possible, as well as checking the accuracy of a large amount of source material.
The opinions and conclusions, however, as well as any errors remain entirely my own.
Finally, my thanks to Autumn Forecast and her team at Soapbox for their typesetting and design work and for turning the paper around so quickly despite the pressure of other projects.
This paper sets the scene for the UK’s newly launched UK in the World project, which will be one of Chatham House’s main areas of focus in the coming years.