Britain is ‘gung ho’ about world role after Brexit, says UN envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Britain’s new United Nations (UN) ambassador said the government is feeling “gung ho” about continuing its role as an important player on the world stage despite its exit from the European Union (EU).

Barbara Woodward pointed to the United Kingdom’s (UK) permanent seat on the powerful UN Security Council, its presidency this year of the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations, its membership in the Group of 20 (G20) leading economic powers and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and its hosting of the next UN global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

“Don’t underestimate the power of the relationship with the EU,” she stressed in an interview with The Associated Press this past week. “There’s a lot of values and principles which we share with European partners which I think will stand us in good stead.”

Britain’s long and sometimes contentious divorce from the EU became final on December 31, 2020, a split that left the 27-member bloc without one of its major economic powers and the UK freer to chart its future but facing a world trying to confront a deadly pandemic and cope with rising unemployment, growing divisions between haves and have-nots, and a climate crisis.

An article in the United States (US)-based World Politics Review in October identified three visions for Britain’s future: “Catastrophists who argue that the UK has become completely irrelevant on the international stage as a result of Brexit; the nostalgics, who see a powerful Britain through the lens of a great colonial power; and the denialists, who refuse to accept that Britain must adapt to a changing global context.”

Authors Ben Judah, a British-French journalist and author, and Georgina Wright, a Brexit researcher at the Institute for Government, a UK think tank, said that since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016 “it is undeniable that both British leadership and influence over global affairs have taken a hit”.

British Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward. PHOTO: AP