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2018 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

6. To Brexit and Beyond: Africa and the United Kingdom

Author: Alex Vines

Published in: Africa and the World

Publisher: Springer International Publishing



Chapter 6 argues that British foreign policy over Africa in the Cold War era seems to be one driven by guilt over colonialism, migration worries, and fears of terrorism, and the looming trade-stress test and interests mainly with South Africa. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and its successor Conservative government have rebooted trade and investment promotion, and have been rebuilding the UK’s diplomatic network in Africa. Britain has been engaged in UN peacekeeping, contributing to deployments in South Sudan and Somalia. It is also engaged in some military capacity-building, but only in selected African countries such as Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Gambia. But with Brexit, the author predicts that there is likely to be greater de-prioritisation of Africa in British policies as the Theresa May administration shifts the goal posts.

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Tony Blair, “Carte Blanche Interview with Tony Blair on matters concerning Africa” (February 2006), http://​tna.​europarchive.​org/​20070807120537/​http://​www.​pm.​gov.​uk/​output/​Page9046.​asp; and Gordon Cumming, “UK African Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: From Realpolitik to Moralpolitik”, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 42(1) (2004), pp. 106–28. The British focus on Africa during a G8 presidency followed a trend started at Kananaskis in Canada in 2002 and Evian in France in 2003.
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In 2006, 351,000 South Africans visited the UK; in 2007, 498,474 Britons visited South Africa. Some 700,000 Britons live in South Africa and some 350,000 South Africans reside in the UK. South Africa was the twenty-first-largest importer of goods to the UK in 2009, worth £3.6 billion.
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Although not the terrorist attack on the USA of 11 September 2001, which convinced him that dealing with Africa’s failing states was important for international security.
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Labour Africa ministers were: Tony Lloyd, 1998; Peter Hain, 2000; Bill Rammell, 2001; Baroness Amos, 2002; Chris Mullin, 2003; Lord Triesman, 2005; Lord Malloch-Brown, 2007; Baroness Kinnock, 2009. Conservative Africa ministers to date are: Henry Bellingham, 2010; Mark Simmonds, 2012; James Duddridge, 2014; Grant Shapps, 2015; James Duddridge, 2016; Tobias Ellwood, 2016.
M. Malloch-Brown, “How to Reform the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office”, Financial Times, 13 January 2010, https://​www.​ft.​com/​content/​5d9031d6-0079-11df-b50b-00144feabdc0
The DFID decided that obvious aid cuts during 2005—the “Year of Africa”—would be too embarrassing, but cuts did occur, such as for middle-income countries like Botswana. The All Party Parliamentary Groups are run by backbench MPs. In 2009 there were 15 APPGs on sub-Saharan African countries or topics (Africa, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and the Great Lakes, and genocide prevention).
Personal Interviews, London, May 2017.
Chris Landsberg, “Fractured continentally: undermined abroad: African agency in world affairs”, paper presented to the seminar African Agency: Implications for IR Theory, 14 September 2011, London, www.​open.​ac.​uk/​socialsciences/​bisa-africa/​files/​africanagency-seminar4-landsberg.​pdf
D. Curran and P. Williams, The UK and UN Peace Operations: A Case for Greater Engagement (Oxford: Oxford Research Group, 2016); see also http://​www.​oxfordresearchgr​oup.​org.​uk/​publications/​briefing_​papers_​and_​reports/​uk_​and_​un_​peace_​operations_​case_​greater_​engagement
T. Cargill, “Back to business? UK policy and African agency”, in W. Brown and S.Harman (eds), African Agency in International Politics (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 65–79.
Vines, “Africa and the United Kingdom: Labour’s Legacy, May 1997–May 2010”, pp. 25–41.
J. Duddridge, “Minister for Africa’s speech on UK’s Africa Policy”, 23 March 2015, https://​www.​gov.​uk/​government/​speeches/​minister-for-africas-speech-on-uks-africa-policy
To Brexit and Beyond: Africa and the United Kingdom
Alex Vines
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