Contribution to the series "The World HandCOV'd"

The United Kingdom was facing testing geopolitical circumstances even before the outbreak of COVID-19. The UK is seeking to shape its new role outside of the EU and this has coincided with fresh disputes with Russia, a growing dispute between China and the United States US, and challenges in the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, alongside the global COVID-19 pandemic. These factors alone would suggest the UK chart a nuanced foreign policy, appeasing new trade partners and assuaging political tensions, however this has not been the case, and the UK has recently acted in spite of possible political repercussions, passing the Magnitsky Act and offering citizenship to Hong Kong citizens. These decisions will have strong geopolitical ramifications for the UK during and after the global pandemic.

Key takeaways

• The UK is not shrinking back from difficult foreign policy decisions that alienate potential trade partners, and is prioritizing national security and human rights issues.
• Determination to “get Brexit done” has shaped part of the UK response to COVID-19 and demonstrated a lack of willingness to work with the EU in a time of crisis.

You can download the entire report as a pdf.