British Foreign Policy after Brexit: Losing Europe and Finding a Role

Kai Oppermann, Ryan Beasley, Juliet Kaarbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


British foreign policy stands at a turning point following the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum. Drawing onrole theory, we trace the UK’s efforts to establish new foreign policy roles as it interacts with concerned international actors. We find that the pro-Brexit desire to ‘take back control’ has not yet translated into a cogent foreign policy direction. In its efforts to avoid adopting the role of isolate, the UK has projected a disoriented foreign policy containing elements of partially incompatible roles such as great power,global trading state, leader of the Commonwealth, regional partner to the EU, and faithful ally to the US. The international community has, through processes of socialization and alter-casting, largely rejected these efforts. These role conflicts between the UK and international actors, as well as conflicts among its different role aspirations, has pressed UK policies towards its unwanted isolationist role,potentially shaping its long-term foreign policy orientation post-Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Relations
Early online date19 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2019


  • Brexit
  • British foreign policy
  • role conflict
  • role theory


Dive into the research topics of 'British Foreign Policy after Brexit: Losing Europe and Finding a Role'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this