Britain excited for global role after Brexit

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UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Britain’s new ambassador to the United Nations says the government feels “enthusiastic” to continue playing its role as an important player on the world stage despite leaving the European Union.

Barbara Woodward highlighted the UK’s permanent seat on the powerful United Nations Security Council, its presidency this year of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, its membership in the Group of 20 Great Economic Powers and NATO, and its hosting of the upcoming United Nations global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

“Don’t underestimate the power of the relationship with the EU,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press last week. “There are a lot of values ​​and principles that we share with our European partners which I think will be very useful to us.”

Britain’s long and sometimes controversial divorce from the EU became final on December 31, a split that left the 27-member bloc without one of its major economic powers and the UK freer to charting its future but facing a world trying to cope with a deadly pandemic. and tackle rising unemployment, growing divisions between the haves and have-nots and a climate crisis.

An October article in the US-based World Politics Review identified three visions for Britain’s future: “Catastrophists who argue that the UK has become completely irrelevant on the international stage following Brexit; the nostalgic, who see a powerful Britain through the prism of a great colonial power; and deniers, who refuse to accept that Britain must adapt to a changing global context.

Authors Ben Judah, a Franco-British journalist and author, and Georgina Wright, a Brexit researcher at the Institute for Government, a British think tank, said that since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, “It is undeniable that British leaders and influence on world affairs took a hit. “

“In international circles it has become fashionable to be too dismissive of Britain’s weight in world affairs,” they said. “Yet the country continues to weigh.”

Woodward, who arrived at the UN after more than five years as ambassador to China and previously served in Russia, agrees.

“We have had three fairly introspective years with the Brexit negotiations and the management of COVID,” she said, but with the upcoming climate summit and the UK’s G-7 presidency as the group is in the taken with the economic recovery from the pandemic, “I think we have a pretty big role to play.

She said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “very committed to multilateralism”. On December 31, as Britain left the EU, he said the UK was now “free to make trade deals around the world and free to boost our ambition to be a science superpower.”

Earlier this month, The Economist magazine said the UK had the opportunity to “cut momentum on the world stage” with its G-7 presidency – including possible invitations to Australia , India and South Korea to attend the group’s sessions – and host the climate summit in Glasgow, “the most important diplomatic event of the year”.

Johnson is expected to visit India and be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s guest of honor on January 26 on Republic Day, “as part of a ‘shift to the Indo-Pacific’, The Economist said, adding that Britain had also opened its doors. discussions to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 countries and strives to become a “dialogue partner” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Woodward said that the UK’s exit from the EU makes the permanent seat of the United Nations and the UK Security Council “more important because the UN has always been the greatest multilateral forum”.

She referred to Sunday’s hybrid commemoration of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in London 75 years ago that Britain hosted, saying the world is very different today “but so many divisions are maybe even deeper now.

Over the next year, Woodward said, three major issues need to be addressed:

—Vaccinate the rich and poor everywhere against the coronavirus and take action to revive economies devastated by the pandemic.

– Make climate change a top priority, focusing on preventing temperature rises and increasing the billions needed to move forward;

—Manage a range of global security issues.

Woodward said Iran would be a matter of central security whether or not US President-elect Joseph Biden agrees to join the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump has withdrawn from. She cited Iran’s role in other conflicts, notably in Yemen and Syria.

There are also security concerns elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, where terrorist attacks in the Sahel are of particular concern, as well as security issues around the protection of digital data.

“I think the relationships that the new (American) administration decides to have with all of its allies – European partners, NATO allies, how it builds a relationship with China, will be essential, as well as the way we work together within the UN. Security Council, ”said Woodward.

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