UK Foreign Policy and the Special Relationship After Brexit: Discourse Versus Substance

The idea of a special relationship with the United States has been central to British foreign policy since Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940. It has been an asymmetric relationship in terms of power, but Washington has usually shared the discourse of a unique friendship if not always the practice. The last four years, however, saw London and Washington often at odds in public as a consequence of the choices made for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump respectively. Does the arrival of the Biden administration mean that normal service will now be resumed, or has populism changed the fundamentals of US-UK relations?


Christopher Hill is a Senior Adjunct Professor at SAIS Europe. He was the first Wilson E. Schmidt Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is Emeritus Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge. Previously he was the Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations in POLIS at the University of Cambridge (from 2004 until October 2016) and Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics (1991-2004). Hill is the author of many books in the areas of foreign policy analysis and general international relations, including most recently The Future of British Foreign Policy: Security and Diplomacy in a World after Brexit (Polity Press, 2019), International Relations and the European Union (edited with Michael Smith and Sophie Vanhoonacker, Oxford University Press, 2017), and The National Interest in Question: Foreign Policy in Multicultural Societies (Oxford University Press, 2013).

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