Foreign policy and national security in the new Parliament

Parliament's role in debates about Britain’s place in the world

By John Bew; Gabriel Elefteriu

In Foreign Policy in the New Parliament, Policy Exchange stresses the vital role of Parliament in debates about Britain’s place in the world. Against the backdrop of a hung parliament, and with Brexit-related legislation likely to be divisive in the House of Commons, the government will very much hope to avoid a major House of Commons vote on a controversial foreign policy issue. A new database of MPs’ voting records, as well as their constituency positions on Brexit, also demonstrates the dangers of internal division facing both main parties.

At a time of heightened international instability, however, the UK cannot afford to encourage the impression that it no longer aspires to be a problem-solving nation, willing to work closely with its allies on issues of mutual concern. The roles of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committees and the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy are likely to be of increased importance as hubs for new, cross-party thinking about the UK’s priorities and place in the world. Where possible, they should seek to build cross-party consensus on key issues in UK foreign policy, following the example of the US House and Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs.

Read the full report