In response to the CPF discussion on Global Britain, we received submissions from 137 CPF groups, representing 165 constituencies plus five Conservatives Abroad groups and at least 1232 members. This represents the highest response rate since the CPF relaunched after the 2015 general election and no doubt reflects the belief among members, whichever way they voted in the 2016 referendum, that the UK should remain a leader on the world stage after we have left the EU. In addition, over 3,500 Party members participated in an online poll based on question seven.
What follows is an overview of the key points raised by CPF groups. A more detailed collation of policy suggestions has been sent to the Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, the CPF Chairman, the Party Vice-Chairman for Policy and relevant government ministers. As usual, we look forward to publishing a formal response to members’ ideas in due course.
Overview of Key Points
The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy, Europe’s second largest manufacturer, and one of the world’s pre-eminent military powers; a member of the G7, NATO, FVEY, UN Security Council and WTO; and top in the world for soft power, by which we can challenge the threat of illiberal democracies & authoritarianism.
The top three global aims identified among CPF groups for the Government were:
- free trade (almost 3-in-5)
- values, freedom and democracy (almost 2-in-5) and
- defence, security and peace (almost 2-in-5).
Members said that the global issues where the UK can have the biggest impact are:
- the environment (almost half)
- free trade (more than 1-in-3)
- defence (more than 1-in-4)
- education (about 1-in-6)
- health (1-in-10)
- slavery (almost 1-in-10)
- peace (about 1-in-14)
- governance (1-in-20)
Half of all groups called for aid to be more targeted and better linked to SMART foreign policy goals. More than 2-in-5 called for recipients to be held more accountable and for regular reports to be published explaining where and how taxpayers’ aid has been used.
More than 1-in-5 CPF groups noted that “BRICS” is an outdated concept, with several mentioning a preference for CANZUK, the “MINT” economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) and “Asian Tigers”.
Almost half called for better teaching of languages, particularly in schools.
Almost 2-in-5 called for more student exchanges and 1-in-8 for internships and other work experience opportunities abroad.
About 1-in-3 of CPF groups called for the trade sections of British embassies to be strengthened. About 1-in-4 want to see more support for small businesses.
About 1-in-7 suggested a new Royal Yacht to promote trade deals. Almost 1-in-10 mentioned the need to support more trade delegations.
About 1-in-7 want to see lower tariffs to trade and about 1-in-8 less red tape. 1-in-11 said the Export Credits Guarantee Department should be strengthened, particularly for small exporters.
The top three measures suggested by CPF groups to measure the success of Global Britain were:
- Trade (more than half);
- GDP or GDP per capita (almost 1-in-3); and
- Quality of living / happiness (almost 1-in-8).
Other top policy suggestions in the various sections include:
- Provide an optimistic vision for UK as a global champion of free trade post-Brexit.
- Use the UK’s vast expatriate network to enhance trade, promote democracy and strengthen security.
- Mould the Commonwealth into a league of democracies.
- Incorporate the DFID budget and activity into the FCO, the DTI or unite it with foreign policy and trade policy under a single department for UK Global Strategy.
- Increase UK aid spending on better governance.
- Work with UK embassies, expat networks and global consultancies to develop multi-year regional strategies that support the promotion of UK exports in targeted markets.
- Provide an online facility for exporters with accurate details on all countries.
- Restrict or prohibit ownership of sensitive industries by hostile or potentially hostile foreign companies and governments.