The UK Government To Restore a Foreign Policy of the British Empire Era


UK foreign policy is primarily based on the ideological assumption that roots in the legacy of an empire. The outcome of Brexit and the US unilateralism has impacted the UK foreign policy. Since the end of colonialism, the UK government has dreams of restoring Anglosphere foreign policy.

Global Britain Seeks Return of British Empire 

British foreign policy has fluctuated over the past decades and reached a point where it inclines to Global Britain. As the British Empire had diminished during the early 20th, its universal role has lost importance. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has new ambitions for Great Britain. His idea of a Global Britain in a competitive age is a desire to return to British Empire. British Empire was the empire on which the sun would never set because somewhere within this empire was always daytime. British had built their empire by sailing around the world back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. British global power and influence diminished in the 20th century, but its colonies joined the Commonwealth. Some still have Queen as their monarch, although they are independent states and are not part of any empire.

Brexit Vote Paved the Road to Global Britain 

The UK government wants to restore the greatness of the empire era around the globe. However, the importance of the European Union has stopped this vision. The UK government has pushed for Brexit to restore British values and sovereignty. The UK government and the public believe that the country can forge an effective foreign policy independent from the EU. The UK government has been determined to secure a separate foreign policy for the UK. Britain aims to act sovereignly in foreign policy, defence, and trade to demonstrate its political existence. The British public’s vote to leave the EU has paved the road for the Global Britain ideology. Yet, the EU has remained its leading geopolitical partner, despite its ‘special relationship’ with the US. However, the UK government needs to avoid following the US government’s desires on foreign policy. 

Johnson and Churchill had the Same Hegemonic Strategy. 

In 2016, then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson mentioned ‘Global Britain’ to define Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy framework. Britain had lost an empire but had not found a global role. Therefore, Brexit could be a game-changer for UK foreign policy, and Global Britain could emerge in the context of Brexit. Johnson’s Global Britain is similar to Winston Churchill’s foreign policy ‘Three Majestic Circles”. That strategy considered Britain as the crucial link between the three sides of Europe, the United States, and the Commonwealth. Boris Johnson’s foreign policy post-Brexit shifts from Europe to the world’s four corners. The UK has increased its complex power capabilities because its foreign policy defines international relations as power relations. Traditionally, Britain has sought to enhance its military power and has needed to hitch to the US in modern times. 

Johnson Prefers Global Britain without ‘Special Relationship’

Traditions organize and rationalize policies, but Britain seems to be a world power actor again. Britain has always remained the closest ally of the world’s most muscular military power, the US. However, Boris Johnson prefers not to use ‘special relationship’ with the US not to sound needy and weak. The Brexit referendum in 2016 disturbed the UK’s relationship with the EU in the short term. Meanwhile, the US’s unilateral decision to withdraw from Afghanistan has left the UK on its own. British foreign policy has long relied on the EU and the US, making the UK vulnerable. Britain has traditionally had influence far beyond its borders. The alliance with the EU and the US has resulted in the disappearance of the UK’s strategic role. The UK has reduced its security ties with the EU and started to balance its close relationship with the US. 

Britain Dreams of its Magnificent Past

The UK Conservative governments were the primary movers behind Brexit to restore their empire-era foreign policy on the world stage. British global role has diminished over time, and the Conservatives have planned to restore the glorious past by Brexit. Hardcore Brexiteers like Boris Johnson expect a bright future and look for the emergence of an Anglosphere. British Empire’s demise was gradual so that the mother country could preserve its military and economic relationships with the ex-colonies. Although British global hegemony has diminished, British supremacy has lasted in the Commonwealth. The US is an English-speaking country that has become a global hegemon, as Great Britain has lost an Empire. Brexiteers, with their Anglosphere ambitions, have planned to locate British foreign policy within the international framework. Therefore, the UK government pursues more broad relationships with the English-speaking world and beyond.

UK Wants Wide-Range Ties Independent from the EU 

Britain’s exit from the EU has pushed the UK and the EU member states to find new ways in foreign policy to cooperate. The EU remains one of the main actors on the international stage, and the UK has planned for wide-ranging global ties. London has pursued different economic and political approaches for the post-Brexit era and will gradually become an EU partner. The EU is the UK’s crucial geopolitical neighbour, and a Global Britain is seeking a balanced relationship with the world. Both parties can cooperate on security and foreign policy as allies. The EU should recognize the UK as out of the bloc, as another European country and as an important European partner. Global Britain needs to bridge a channel to keep working with the neighbouring EU and extend ties globally. 


As the British Empire has diminished, an identity crisis for UK foreign policy has emerged. Britain has not found a global role as hegemony and has attempted to play another power role. After the world wars, Winston Churchill’s foreign policy highlighted the importance of Britain’s role in ties with the three sides. His strategy regarded the UK as the core of the relationship with the US, the Commonwealth, and Europe. After the Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson‘s foreign policy sought Churchill’s principal. He introduced his Global Britain plan, apart from the EU and not based on the ‘special relationship’. As the head of the Commonwealth, the UK government dreams of an old empire to revive its global position. British officials would prefer to be a dominant European power with Anglosphere type foreign policy. 

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