However, the core is worth restating here: the Review treats the EU as a firm ally and one with whom there is much scope to build further collaborations on points of mutual interest. What’s missing is any sense of a problematic relationship that will take – even in the most ludicrously positive scenario – many years to find a mutually-trusting stability. This matters both for itself and more generally. There’s much talk about the value of multilateralism, of regulatory power and of free trade, with no sign of how a closer relationship with the EU might advance those agendas. While it is perfectly understandable to consider that withdrawal is a done deal, and the Trade & Cooperation Agreement with it, that should not mean there has to be a rose-tinted view of how things stand. Instead, a strategic document like this needs to take a much more hard-nosed approach, to allow for the planning of responses to threats and opportunities. If nothing else, some plan to work towards rebuilding trust with EU partners might have been in order. All of which brings us back to the paradox of the EU in British politics. This might not be another example of the deliberate antagonism that seems to colour so much of Johnson’s actions, but it will be an important contributory factor to an unnecessarily fractious environment. As I’ve noted in another thread, the UK’s going to continue to struggle with its European policy as long as it fails to be seen as having credible alternatives:
So how does #IntegratedReview see the EU?— Simon Usherwood (@Usherwood) March 16, 2021
Mainly as a problem that's been solved, and then as base from which to build wider international action by UK
Neither part of this looks that robust
That doesn’t have to mean a closer relationship to the EU, or any programme of working to rejoin the organisation, just a sense of some things being beyond the UK’s power to control or influence, which in turn require finding ways to get along. As the Integrated Review notes, there’s a lot going on out there, so we have to engage with, and work with, others if the international system is to persist. Working out some ideas on how to do that with our neighbours might be a good place to start.
Thinking again about the UK's European policy and why it doesn't work— Simon Usherwood (@Usherwood) March 15, 2021
tl;dr EU doesn't think UK has a credible alternative to making things work in long-run