London tilting towards Asia - and away from Europe?
Britain is realigning its foreign and defence policy after Brexit. Prime Minister Johnson presented the new strategy, called Global Britain, in the House of Commons on Tuesday. It places increased emphasis on nuclear weapons in response to new threats and aims to expand the country's influence in the Indo-Pacific region, which it says has become the world's "geopolitical and economic centre of gravity".
A gaping hole at the heart of the document
The EU barely features in the new foreign policy strategy, the Financial Times groans:
“Most threats the UK faces - Russia, Islamist or far-right terrorism, uncontrolled migration, cyber attacks by Iran or North Korea - are shared with its European neighbours. ... The 'Indo-Pacific tilt' also obscures a sizeable hole at the heart of the document - any vision for co-operation with the most important partner for Britain's safety: Europe, and in particular the EU. Brexit opens possibilities for independent policy and action, but should not mean antagonising or circumventing the EU.”
Britain aiming for major role in global economy
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is not surprised that London wants to focus more on the Indo-Pacific region in foreign policy:
“This is where, to a large extent, the music plays in the global economy - London doesn't want to be just a listener - and where the systemic conflict between authoritarian regimes and democracies, between state capitalism and the market economy is fought out. But how far the British government will get without being tied into fixed cooperation agreements remains to be seen.”
The old dream of Splendid Isolation
VTimes sees echoes of Britain's former conception of itself as a superpower in the new strategy:
“The imperial past is proving to be an endless resource for British politics. Even if ex-prime minister John Major announced that Britain will never again be a superpower, the Tories' geopolitical imagination remains trapped in the scheme of metropolis and colonies. The Brexit is seen as the result of a struggle for independence from the soft empire of the EU, and the concept of 'Global Britain' as the ensuing reincarnation of the policy of 'Splendid Isolation' pursued by the British Empire at the end of the 19th century. Yet this was isolation in name only; in reality the British actively participated in European and global affairs - but without long-term commitments vis-à-vis other states.”