Skip to main content

Lords to debate UK foreign policy, in or out of the EU

The House of Lords will debate the UK's place in the world as it considers the International Relations Committee's report UK foreign policy in a shifting world order on Tuesday 21 May. 

Lord Howell, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, will open the debate, which will consider the fundamental changes to the global balance of power, upheaval wrought by digital technologies, and the place of the UK in a world increasingly characterized by the erosion of the rules-based international order. 

Taking place just two weeks ahead of a visit to the UK by US President Donald Trump, the Committee's conclusions on the future of UK-US relations will be likely to be a key focus. The report identified a number of foreign policy decisions taken in Washington that were “contrary to the interests of the United Kingdom,” and urged serious consideration of which aspects of US policy are likely to be temporary and which represent more significant trends. 

The proliferation and effect of new technologies and digital communications tools on international relations will also be a significant theme of the debate. The report emphasised that existing digital technologies have already changed the context and conduct of diplomacy, and that emerging technologies could present further challenge to the established global order. 

Regarding Brexit, the Committee made clear in its report that while there are possible foreign policy consequences, the wider geopolitical shifts affecting the world would be present regardless of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. The case for a rethink of the UK's foreign policy predated the 2016 referendum. 

Chairman of the Committee Lord Howell of Guildford said: 

"Regardless of how and when we leave the European Union, there is an urgent need for a fundamental reorienting of the UK's foreign policy. The Committee's report argued that the world is in a profound state of upheaval and that the rules-based international order—from which the UK enormously benefits—is being seriously challenged. 

"Since the report's publication in December 2018 there have been significant foreign policy challenges that strengthen our argument for a national public debate about the UK's place in the world. The US Administration's increasingly assertiveness towards Iran is at odds with the UK's position, while the recent opening salvos of a trade war between the US and China risk seriously undermine the UK and global economy. At the same time, a debate on whether to allow Huawei's access to UK infrastructure is reigniting questions on how closely the UK should cooperate with China. 

"The debate will be an opportunity to explore the challenges facing the UK in this more turbulent international situation, which new paths the UK should take."

Speakers list:

An updated Speakers' List can be found here on Tuesday 21 May. 

Latest tweets


Subscribe to Lords newsletter

Sign up for the House of Lords newsletter for the latest news, debates and business