Throughout recent history, UK foreign affairs have been pro-globalisation headed by some of the most respected politicians, who have had an ability to build strong diplomatic relationships. But the British satire ‘Yes, Minister’ once quipped that the reason the UK went into the European Union (EU) was to “make a complete pigs breakfast of it all.” With Boris Johnson as Foreign Affairs minister, this highlights Britain’s slow demise from global leadership and perhaps that quip is becoming a reality.
Irrespective of whether you agree with previous policies, the likes of David Miliband command respect abroad from other leaders. Johnson however, has proved he is lightweight and with Brexit looming over the UK, other powers have little interest in what the government say.
The UK’s reaction
Following the chemical attack in Syria with almost all evidence points towards Assad and he has history of doing such atrocities on his people. Trump reacted instantly by dropping bombs on the airbase that the planes had taken off from with vocal support from China and other global leaders, apart from Vladimir Putin of Russia and Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani. The knee-jerk reaction will only fuel anger in the region though and increase tensions with Russia, plus, it increased North Korea’s paranoia, who are developing long-range nuclear missiles.
The UK’s reaction was a little more sombre, Boris Johnson cancelled his diplomatic trip to Moscow and the Russian embassy in the UK reacted by openly mocking him. Johnson had also stated that on his trip to the G7 summit he would have a plan in place to convince other nations to place further sanctions on Russia but that failed with Italy, France and Germany publicly rebuffing him. Underlining the UK’s current inability to make an impact globally. Boris Johnson insists that further sanctions could still be placed on Russia but others state that Russia must not be “pushed into a corner.”
The UK’s lightweight global influence
The UK has long been a global leader and pushing above its weight, including significant influence over the shape of the EU. Globally, it has created ties that date back centuries unfortunately, those means throughout history have been less than unpleasant. This history must never be forgotten or hidden but learned from. Within the EU the UK had influence over trade deals, policy, legislation and regulations on a global scale, as much as Germany who have the perception of being the EU leaders.
With Brexit and Boris Johnson the UK’s influence is deflated. His G7 summit meeting was a failure and was an exercise for him to expand his own influence as well as continue the UK’s global traditions. The only agreement that Johnson was able to procure from the summit was that Assad must be removed from Syria, the Foreign Office are highlighting this as a success even though he failed in his aim for a universal agreement over Russia as well.
How do you remove Assad?
The means of which Assad should be removed has to be properly investigated and planned, all options must be explored otherwise it could create further extremism within the region. The UK cannot make the same mistakes as Iraq but it was influence from the Assad regime that helped cause destabilisation whilst the UK intervened there. The region has had a long history with the Assad family dynasty, whilst the region thrived on the outside, extreme poverty and human rights abuses were regular occurrences.
Assad has been someone who has needed to be removed for a long time, but the response of Putin and Turkish President, Erdogan, following any course of action should be met with caution and kept an eye on. What can be said is that inaction is unacceptable and the UK must seek support to remove Assad and quell the Russian threat with little to no force, even with our dwindling global influence.
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