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Author: Stuart Rock
Written on: 04 February 2020
Last updated: 04 February 2020
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"Britain can be a global leader": the determined optimism of Tony Blair


It's worth reading Tony Blair's article on the website of his Institute for Global Change. There can't be many clearer expositions of the need for Remainers to work out how to make the best of Brexit. He urges a "determined optimism."

The challenge of making Brexit work is how to use the UK's independence from Europe “to forge a new path in the era of globalisation and find our niche as an innovator and global leader where we have the capabilities to do so.”

That means investment in sustainable infrastructure that links up the UK's diverse regions. It means "building a world class education system" and "encouraging a highly competitive business and enterprise sector." It also entails making Government "a place of innovation and creativity."

"We are leaders in tech in Europe; we should enhance that position through a benign regulatory environment and ensuring our universities remain amongst the best in the world," he says.

Immigration "with proper controls" must be seen as "a vital component of economic success, not as a threat to our cultural integrity." And the Armed Forces - "an essential arm of British power and influence" - need modernisation and investment.

All this adds up to Britain finding “a new place in the world.”

Yes, keep our American relationship close but don't over-compensate from our departure from the EU by being over-reliant on the USA. "On the contrary, we need to show what we can bring to their table, in our own right, in economic partnership, trade, diplomacy, the fight against extremism and helping fashion Western alliances with the new emerging Asian and African powers."

There are clear areas for partnership and co-operation with Europe which include a common approach to the environment and energy; defence and security; school and university partnerships; building European tech capability "so that the next generation of tech innovation does not come solely from the USA or China"; and a shared approach to the challenges in the Middle East and Africa. "We should set about systematically building a relationship not on shared laws but on shared interests and values."

"Britain cannot be a global super power," he writes. "But it can be a global leader.

It can be a global model. It can from the environment to development to technology be a global innovator. There is a niche for us. We just need to be creative and confident about finding it."

Of course, he would have preferred all these things to have taken place from within the EU.

Yet, he ends stirringly, "Britain is a great country. At our best, we are a great people. Our history shows us what our future can be. Time to embrace it."

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