This article was originally published on The Commentator
The multilateral action taken by virtually every major Western power against Russian aggression is a triumph of British foreign policy. Having been initially faced with reluctance from European neighbours to forcibly condemn Vladimir Putin following the Salisbury poisoning, the Prime Minister Theresa May has been able to wield British intelligence with aplomb.
In light of overwhelming evidence garnered by MI6 — that shows links to the Kremlin — countries have lined up behind Britain’s foreign policy strategy and expelled Russian diplomats. There is now an international coalition united by the objectives of the UK Government, and adopting the means prescribed by our Foreign Office.
This is testament to the capabilities of our diplomatic and intelligence services. For these are the assets, not our membership of the European Union, which have enabled us to pursue a truly global foreign policy — and will continue to do so upon our departure from the political union.
We possess an enterprising and proactive diplomatic service, which is able to formulate policy innovatively in reaction to world events – placing us at the forefront of the international response. This, in turn, is supported by unrivalled intelligence capabilities that can justify the course of action we advocate.
Together these tools enable the UK’s proposed strategy to hold significant clout in forums such as NATO and the United Nations, thereby shaping the global discussion. This can be seen with our previous advocacy of economic sanctions against rogue states such as North Korea and Syria. We have also led the way in a reform of the global approach to humanitarian disasters through our promotion of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle.
Indeed, rather than this ability being diminished by Britain Leaving the European Union and its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), we will instead be able to pursue an even more pioneering foreign policy — one befitting a global power.
The creation of an EU Foreign Minister — the ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ — and a diplomatic corps – the European External Action Service (EEAS) – lessen the natural ambition of British foreign policy.
The increasing ‘competence creep’ of these bodies has seen them accumulate more responsibilities which once rested exclusively with the Member States. In particular, the ability of the High Representative to espouse a ‘common’ EU position undermines the UK’s ability to pursue a truly independent foreign policy, with it instead forced to conform to the joint European stance.
Often issuing her announcements hastily, the current High Representative, the Italian, Federica Mogherini, hampers the capacity of Member States to express their own views. Her repeated criticism of Donald Trump, the President of Britain’s closest ally, is indicative of this.
Meanwhile, the rapid growth of the EEAS has seen an increasing infringement upon Britain’s diplomatic capacity in third countries. Acting on behalf of all EU members, the service has begun providing consular assistance to EU citizens worldwide, as well as demanding the right to speak at international forums. Such a course of action would see Britain’s voice superseded and undermined by EEAS statements in these meetings.
Being diplomatically associated with 27 other nations has led to the development of what academics call, a “European co-ordination reflex”. This means our foreign policy is often shaped by what the Government thinks will be palatable to their European counterparts, rather than what best suits our interests and priorities.
The issue with this arrangement is that Britain’s attitude to world affairs is markedly different from the likes of Greece, Malta, Finland, or even the demilitarised Germany. As such, the implicit obligation to pay due regard to the priorities of these countries, often dilutes what would be an effective British position.
In contrast to the doom mongers of the Remain side, Britain will not become an isolated nation once it Leaves the European Union. Our national assets, both diplomatic and intelligence, will ensure our stature on the world stage remains one of upmost prominence.
The Great British Public’s decision to Get Britain Out must entail us Leaving the Common Foreign and Security Policy as this will enable us to act, unimpeded, in pursuing bold foreign policy aims.
Robert Bates is a Research Executive at grassroots, cross-party campaign Get Britain Out