Sir Simon Fraser, who stood down in July as permanent under-secretary at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), reflects on his five years in the role at a tumultuous time in international affairs.

29 September 2015


Sir Simon Fraser KCMG, Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2010-15)


He argues that the financial and economic crisis of 2008 was an important turning point which marked the start of a new and highly uncertain period in foreign policy. While British diplomacy needs to be able to react to immediate events and crises, it will also need to establish a clear sense of purpose and durable long term priorities, and to pay sustained attention to the core relationships the UK needs in order to achieve them in times of rapid change. Sir Simon will consider how Britain has responded to major foreign policy challenges in recent years, and look ahead to where he thinks the focus should be in the future. He also reflects on what this means for how the government allocates resources to international work, and what kind of FCO and Diplomatic Service Britain will need in the years ahead.