Foreign Affairs Committee

The future of Britain’s diplomatic relationship with Europe - follow up inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Due to the general election on 12 December 2019 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November, all Select Committees will cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry.

Scope of the inquiry

The future of Britain's diplomatic relationship with Europe: follow up inquiry

The Committee's Second Report of Session 2017-19, The future of UK diplomacy in Europe, concluded:

During this inquiry, we received mixed messages from the Foreign Secretary, the Minister for Europe, and the FCO Permanent Under Secretary. On the one hand, we were told that the FCO was not "doing Brexit" and it was focussing its attention on the capitals of the EU27. However, we were also told that the FCO had a crucial role to play in Brexit and that it was leading on negotiations on CFSP/CSDP and on other issues such as Gibraltar and sanctions. While the FCO said that it provided a platform for HMG in Europe, including the Department for Exiting the EU, it is unclear what this means in practice. [Para 42]

Since the publication of the Committee's report, the FCO's role and influence during the EU Exit negotiations remains unclear. The Committee has agreed to follow-up on its earlier inquiry and will scrutinise how the FCO has plugged into the cross-Whitehall decision-making network, how the information-gathering process of the FCO and its Europe Network works in practice, and the FCO's interactions with crucial interlocutors in European capitals during the negotiations.


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