As a former imperial power, the British Government has retained a strong global perspective. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is an elite, highly regarded diplomatic service with rigorous standards for recruitment, training, and conduct. It has a distinctive culture—of pragmatism, realism, and commitment to a rules-based international order—that bears the imprint of what was once called “the Foreign Office mind.” The FCO faces significant challenges, however, including a sharply reduced budget, the transfer of key functions to other ministries, and the centralization of policy making. “Brexit” creates additional problems, and voices within the FCO and outside express deep concern about Britain’s ability to meet these challenges as “an island apart,” to borrow the title of a recent article in the British press.
KeywordsUnited Kingdom Great Britain Foreign and Commonwealth Office FCO Diplomacy Diplomats Foreign policy Foreign office
The authors wish to thank the following diplomats and scholars who were consulted in researching and writing this chapter: Gill Bennett, John Bew, Keith Hamilton, Matthew Harries, Stephen Hickey, Matthew Moody, Pauline Neville-Jones, Patrick Salmon, and Liane Saunders.
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