Global Britain and the narrative of empire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 2016, the UK government has outlined plans for Global Britain as a framework for post-Brexit foreign policy. Some criticise the idea as a vision of “Empire 2.0”, but it is rarely made clear exactly what form it takes or what its wider political implications are. This article argues that Global Britain constitutes not just an idea or a slogan, but a foreign policy narrative and, more specifically, the narrative of empire. To appear reasonable, its grand ambitions require pre-existing knowledges of past imperial “successes” and accepting images of empire among the British public. Yet Global Britain lacks efficacy: as a domestic rather than an international narrative; by being inherently regressive in its worldview; and for contradicting the preferences of international partners on which the UK heavily relies. These narrative flaws, it is argued, make Global Britain an actively problematic, rather than merely ineffective, component of UK foreign policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-734
Number of pages8
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2019


  • Global Britain
  • Brexit
  • Asia
  • narratives
  • empire


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