William Wallace: How to end our dependent relationship with the US

From a speech at Chatham House by the Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics
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The Independent Online

How do we rebuild [British foreign policy]? The first step is to acknowledge that the "special relationship" is dead: that Britain's relations with the United States have particular strengths in limited areas, but that we delude ourselves if we imagine that British leaders - without the support of other governments - can shape American policy. Many other states have special relations with Washington: Israel, Australia, even Saudi Arabia.

How do we rebuild [British foreign policy]? The first step is to acknowledge that the "special relationship" is dead: that Britain's relations with the United States have particular strengths in limited areas, but that we delude ourselves if we imagine that British leaders - without the support of other governments - can shape American policy. Many other states have special relations with Washington: Israel, Australia, even Saudi Arabia.

The second step is to invest in rebuilding multilateral relations with our major European partners, and in shaping the agenda of the European Union. This will require a collective effort by the Government as a whole, with the Foreign Office and the Treasury fully engaged. It will also require ministers to move beyond a defensive approach to a constructive search for solutions where British interests are shared with others: for an overall redistributive budget package, for example, rather than a defence of Mrs Thatcher's rebate of 20 years ago.

The third step is to invest in persuading the British public that European integration is in Britain's interests, and that cooperation with other European governments is the necessary foundation for British influence over global political developments. That means talking about Britain's European history and identity, as well as challenging the anti-European message put out by large sections of the British press.

We have to recognise that the assumptions on which British foreign policy have rested for the past 40 years, since Harold Macmillan attempted after Suez to re-establish a privileged but dependent relationship with the US, and a closer but hesitant relationship with the European continent, have collapsed. We have no choice but to rebuild, on a different foundation.

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