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Palliser Lecture: Britain’s International Obligations – Fetters or Keys?

HSBC, Pall Mall, London, March 18, 2015

Are the UK’s international obligations – such as being members of the EU and NATO – restraints which undermine its sovereignty or keys with which it can unlock the opportunity to maintain global influence? This was the question at hand for the second annual lecture Palliser Lecture, delivered by former UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve. He said, “British foreign policy, even during the height of Empire, was driven by a desire to engage internationally, both to secure peace and ensure national prosperity. Today, when we are in the midst of inevitable globalization, we seem too often preoccupied by twin political narratives of exceptionalism and decline. Neither is true. In a world in which power is shifting and getting increasingly diffuse, a country such as ours with extensive soft power assets, giving us the ability to be listened to and to provide leadership on international norms of behaviour, is important to the maintenance of a complex and increasingly global legal and financial system and also has the capacity to derive great advantage from it... “We should build on what is on offer and not hanker after some simpler world that does not and has never existed.” 

Read a transcript of this event