Britain and the world
in British politics today
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Britain has an outward-looking stance in its contact with the rest of the world. This chapter deals with Britain's international relations, focusing on the country's key interests, the rise and decline of the British Empire, the Britain-EU relations, the Britain-US bond, the ethical foreign policy of the Labour government and the Iraq war. Britain's national interests have been conditioned by a lack of plentiful natural resources and an island status that delivers a close relationship with the sea. In 1920, the British Empire occupied a quarter of the world's landmass but after World War II most of its colonies gained independence which soon reduced the country's role to something far less exalted. The postwar British foreign policy envisaged emphasis in Europe, America and the Empire/Commonwealth. Some critics argue it would be more logical for Britain to recognise the facts of economics and geography and invest more political capital in Europe.

British politics today

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