1 July 2011


Dr Robin Niblett CMG

Director, Chatham House


This is the second survey of British attitudes towards the UK's international priorities that Chatham House has developed in partnership with YouGov. The survey tests British thinking about the country's place in the world and assesses how this thinking may have changed during the coalition government's first year in office.

This document includes analysis of the results by Dr Robin Niblett, and Chatham House experts Kerry Brown, Tom Cargill, James Nixey, Xenia Dormandy, Gareth Price, Bernice Lee, Rob Bailey, Charles Emmerson, Felix Preston, and Jane Kinninmont. Lord Malloch-Brown, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, and Peter Kellner also offer their analysis.

Key findings include:

  • By a clear margin, most people think the most important focus of British foreign policy should be protecting its borders, including counter-terrorism; out of a list of ten items, the public's lowest priority is dealing with international crises.
  • The four greatest threats to Britain (from a list of 12) are thought to be international terrorism, interruptions to energy supplies, organized crime (including drug- and people-trafficking) and instability in the world's financial system. Climate change is seen as far less of a threat.
  • 40% think Britain's foreign policy over the past year has damaged Britain's reputation abroad; only 6% think it has enhanced its reputation.
  • The biggest contributing factor to Britain's international reputation is thought to be the fact that English is a global language of business and diplomacy.