Bishop of Leeds speaks in debate on foreign policy and the UK’s role on the global stage

On 3rd May 2023, the Bishop of Leeds spoke in a debate tabled by the Bishop of St Albans on the UK’s changing role in the world, speaking about the UK’s self-perception and the need to consider the perception of other nations:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I do not wish to detract from the power of the questions that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, has put to the Minister. I promise I will not add more questions to them; I will come at the debate from a different direction. There are two ways of addressing this Motion: first, the role of the UK as seen through our eyes in the UK, who can easily assume that ours is the only way of seeing; secondly, our role as seen through the eyes of “the world” doing the looking in. I am not being pedantic, but why do we in the UK find it so difficult to look at ourselves through the lens of those who might see the world differently?

In his excellent Chatham House speech on 27 April, the Minister for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, addressed the future of international development. Among the very good, welcome and perceptive observations in his speech, one line is understated and easy to miss: the admission that the UK Government’s cut in aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income has “dented the UK’s reputation”, as well as being “painful for our partners”. Dented? Only the partners who suffered the consequences of that decision can really tell us what they think our role in the world is now and how it is experienced. Painful reality is more persuasive than optimistic rhetoric.

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