, Volume 92, Number 2

Christopher Hill
Since the loss of their empires, Britain and France have been seen as states in historical but still only relative decline: no longer great powers but not typical of the large category of middle-range powers. Despite financial constraints and limited size they retain their status as permanent members of the UN Security Council and continue to display the ambition to exert global influence. At times, London and Paris deal with this anomaly by acting in harness but at others their foreign policies diverge dramatically, not least because of the contrasting domestic traditions from which they emerge, and because of their differing roles within the European Union. This article assesses the capacity of these two notable states to maintain a leading role in international politics given their own uneasy relationship and the significant constraints which they now face, both external and internal. The article is a revised version of the Martin Wight Memorial Lecture, held at Chatham House, London, on 3 November 2015.

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