Promises of a “global Britain” after Brexit must be backed by substance or the slogan risks damaging the UK’s reputation on the world stage, a House of Commons committee has warned.
The only thing clear about the often repeated phrase is “that it is unclear what it means”, MPs said.
Demands for a formal definition from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had proved fruitless, with its description amounting to “little more than a continuation” of the department’s activities, they said.
“For Global Britain to be more than a worthy aspiration, the slogan must be backed by substance,” the Foreign Affairs select committee said.
“If it comes to be perceived as a superficial branding exercise, it risks undermining UK interests by damaging our reputation overseas and eroding support for a global outlook here at home.”
Prime Minister Theresa May first set out her vision for a “global Britain” at a speech to the Conservative Party conference in October 2016, insisting the UK would “forge an ambitious and optimistic” role in the world after Brexit.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also used the phrase in major speeches.
The committee asked the FCO to set out the Government’s Global Britain policy, including its objectives and the timeline for achieving them, but it said the response did not amount to a strategy.
“The FCO’s description of Global Britain is therefore little more than a continuation of the FCO’s current activities, with modest adjustments in some areas,” the committee said.
“Its wide scope means that it does not clearly list the priorities of Global Britain.”
Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat called on Mrs May to make a Commons statement setting out what the policy means and said the Government should make all its speeches and documents on the subject available in one place on the internet and in a number of languages.
He said: “As we prepare to leave the EU, it is vital that we set out our stall.”
“But to demonstrate global leadership, we need a clear statement of objectives and priorities and a commitment to the sufficient resources to achieve them.”
“To eliminate confusion, the committee is calling on Government to set out what the policy means. We urge the Prime Minister to make a keynote speech in the House.”
“The UK is a global player, but a slogan is not a policy and the country needs a clear strategy to shape our actions or we risk damaging our reputation overseas and eroding support for a global outlook at home.”
“Ministers need to show that the idea of Global Britain means more than a continuation of the FCO’s current activities and is instead a targeted, resourced plan.”