House of Lords, Speech, Lord John Taylor of Warwick, Brexit

The Effect of Brexit on International Relations, UN and USA

In 1971 a young man from Liverpool named John Lennon wrote a song called Imagine. You may be relieved to know I am not going to sing it, but the last verse reads:

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one.

There remain many challenges to the international unity that the song Imagine aspires to. Whilst I am not suggesting that Brexit Will Fix It overnight, I do believe that a properly managed British Brexit will help, not hinder global relations.


First of all, despite Brexit we will remain an influential permanent member of the UN Security Council, the second largest contributor to NATO after America and a leading member of the G7, G20, and the Commonwealth. We will remain an outward facing nation, with a diplomatic network respected across the world.


This week we have heard much about the special relationship between Britain and America. I am delighted about this, because I personally have a special relation with an American, my wife Lady Taylor.  Now it is true that I whilst I say tomaato, Laura says tomato. In her home state of Texas, Cricket is an insect. In England cricket is a summer sport played in between rain showers. But these are but superficial differences between our two cultures. More importantly whenever we go America for family reasons or I am invited there to speak, it is clear that the British brand remains very strong. Recently I had the privilege of being interviewed by Fox TV News about the Referendum. America is listening to and watching Britain very closely as we bring on Brexit. It is encouraging for us that the new American President Mr. Trump has already declared himself favourable to Brexit and Britain. I am delighted to have been invited to President Trump’s forthcoming Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC and am looking forward also to my scheduled meeting with Dr. Ben Carson.


Tomorrow the Prime Minster will be the first world leader to meet the new President.  There are a number of issues which she could discuss with him, including Defence, Trade, Security (including Cybersecurity), Human Rights and the Environment. But I hope NATO and the UN are top of their agenda for their meeting.  Our membership of NATO is at the heart of British defence policy and we must retain our commitment to it. We meet the target of 2% of GDP on defence and spend 20% of our defence budget on major new research and development. We are the sixth largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, with British peacekeepers currently deployed in 6 missions around the world. Stability and prosperity are directly linked and I am pleased that we are committed to spending 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development.

I do hope the new President will set a new Precedent for a stronger and more effective NATO and UN. In my view Peacekeeping is not enough to create a more secure world. There is an often overlooked passage in the bible in Matthew 5 v 9, which states: Blessed Are The Peacemakers. Peacemaking is over and above just peacekeeping.


This is one of the recommendations in the Report from the International Relations Select Committee, concerning the future of the UN.  Paragraph 91 reads: The UN needs to invest more in conflict prevention. Member states should consider awarding more financial resources, intelligence, and analytical capacity to support the ‘good offices’ of the Secretary-General. The UK should take the lead in this field.

I support the recommendation for increased conflict prevention. But I am not convinced that spending more is the only way to achieve this. Any increase in funding must lead to improved delivery and avoid duplication and additional bureaucracy. So there need to be reforms within the UN system, the wider NGO community and international financial institutions generally, to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

As to other recommendations by the Committee, I highlight the suggestion that the new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, should take steps towards forging a new global consensus on handling the unprecedented volume of refugees and migrant movements worldwide. The situation has reached biblical proportions with over 60 million refugees worldwide.

The other most significant recommendation, with which I also agree, is that the new Secretary-General should drive forward the commitments on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

The UK already has constructive relationships with EU states, on a bilateral level as well as through the EU. For example with France we work together on issues concerning security, defence, energy, migration, transport and trade.  I personally have had the privilege of speaking at joint UK/French events in Paris and London. When we leave the EU those relationship will not end, but the Brexit door will open to new relationships in the rest of the world, in a digital age of new threats and challenges.

As the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe. We are still geographically in Europe, but will no longer be inhibited in our ability to forge new alliances globally.

The territories around the Pacific and Indian Oceans present new challenges, especially for global security. So we need to strengthen our Commonwealth military alliances, especially those links with Australia, India, New Zealand and Malaysia. Whereas there are 28 members of the EU, there are 52 members of the Commonwealth family of 2.2 billion people.  So Brexit bridges the way also to more trade with the Commonwealth, which has strong historic and cultural links to Britain.

My father was one of those Commonwealth soldiers who fought for Britain in the Second World War. He left Jamaica in the West Indies to enlist in the British Eighth Army to fight in Italy. Like many from  the Caribbean  and Commonwealth he regarded Britain as the Mother Country. I believe that Brexit provides the opportunity to rekindle and even strengthen Britain’s ties with the Commonwealth. The timing is excellent, since Britain is due to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHGOM) in 2018.

For the UK, the end of TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) may offer an opportunity for UK/US trade. If TTIP had gone ahead, A United States with preferential access to the EU market may have seen a trade deal with the UK as a lower priority. The loss of TTIP may actually advance the prospects of a UK/US trade deal.

Last June’s Referendum resulted in a Brexit Breakaway from the EU which will ultimately improve international relations. Provided it is managed properly, Brexit will cause European and other international institutions to reform.  Yes, Brexit is bold and brave. Britain will be the first country to withdraw from the EU. But as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, “Don’t follow the Crowd, let the crowd follow you”.