What are the UK's commitments to overseas territories?

  • 8 September 2017
  • From the section UK
British disaster relief troops in Anguilla Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption British troops have arrived in Anguilla to take part in the disaster relief operation

The UK is facing criticism for its response to Hurricane Irma, but what are its responsibilities to its overseas territories?

Britain has 14 overseas territories. They are mostly former colonies and are located all over the world, from Gibraltar and the Falklands to Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Most are largely self-governing with their own constitutions and governments. But the people who live there are British citizens, the Queen is their head of state and Britain is responsible for their defence and security.

As such, the UK government has a clear duty to protect the citizens of these territories from natural disaster.

Defence cuts

In a white paper, published in June 2012, the Foreign Office declared: "The protection of the overseas territories and their people is one of the UK government's most important responsibilities."

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Why Boris Johnson feels he must fix Libya

Boris Johnson greets members of the Libyan coastguard. Image copyright PA
Image caption Boris Johnson met members of the Libyan coastguard at a naval base in Tripoli during his two-day trip

In the naval port in Tripoli, one is reminded of the different roles Britain has played in Libya in recent years.

In one dock lies the wreck of a frigate sunk by the RAF in 2011. It rests on its side, a rusting symbol of David Cameron's decision to use military force against Colonel Gaddafi's regime.

Read full article Why Boris Johnson feels he must fix Libya

How terror attacks affect elections

Tony Blair
Image caption Tony Blair unveiled a 12 point plan to deal with the terror threat

After the bomb attacks on London in July 2005, Tony Blair summoned the media to Downing Street for a news conference.

"The rules of the game are changing," the prime minister declared.

Read full article How terror attacks affect elections

Will Macron mean the blues or a boost for Brexit?

Emmanuel Macron Image copyright Getty Images

The received wisdom is that the election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France is bad for Britain's Brexit negotiations.

Like much received wisdom, it may just be wrong. For the arrival of this young financier-turned politician in the Elysee could actually make a deal between Britain and the European Union easier.

Read full article Will Macron mean the blues or a boost for Brexit?

Will the UK do the US's bidding on Syria?

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Media captionForeign Secretary Boris Johnson tells Today the UK could help the US respond to a chemical attack in Syria

Britain has long been as much a military ally of the United States as a diplomatic one.

Margaret Thatcher allowed Ronald Reagan to use UK airbases to strike Libyan targets in 1986.

Read full article Will the UK do the US's bidding on Syria?

UK's aid budget: Decision time for Theresa May

UK Aid sign on a box of supplies Image copyright PA

A few weeks ago, Theresa May did something rather unusual. The prime minister went to Scotland and delivered a speech in praise of Britain's aid budget. As far as I can determine, this was a first. She praised the Department for International Development (DfID) that delivers that budget.

In an unexpected flurry of alliteration, she praised the aid money being spent in Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. She said UK aid "helps millions around the world and speaks strongly to the values that we share as a country".

Read full article UK's aid budget: Decision time for Theresa May

South Sudan famine: How the UK delivers lifelines from the sky

  • 14 April 2017
  • From the section Africa
UK planes drop aid in South Sudan Image copyright Robert Oxley/ DFID
Image caption Planes drop aid sacks into famine-hit areas of South Sudan

In the dusty, baking emptiness of Leer in South Sudan, bags of British food aid fall from the sky to relieve the hunger below.

It is here in the north of the country that the United Nations has declared a famine. It is here that the fighting between government and rebel forces has driven so many into hunger and homelessness. And it is here that UK aid is being carefully targeted from the air.

Read full article South Sudan famine: How the UK delivers lifelines from the sky

Government fears trade deal 'havoc', EU diplomats say

A number of EU diplomats believe the UK government is having second thoughts about its threat to leave the bloc without a trade deal should negotiations break down, the BBC understands.

They say, in private, that the government fears the economy could be left in "havoc" if Britain left without agreeing any preferential access to EU markets.

Read full article Government fears trade deal 'havoc', EU diplomats say

Article 50: Is Whitehall ready for Brexit?

  • 27 March 2017
  • From the section Brexit
A Union flag flies near the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

If you walk down Whitehall in central London, you cannot escape reminders of wars fought and empires run from this small district on the north bank of the Thames. There are memorials to the fallen, statues of field marshals and even a Turkish cannon captured in some long-forgotten conflict.

Yet the civil service that once gloried in its global administrative stretch is now the smallest it has been since World War Two. And with the government launching the British state on its greatest administrative, economic and legal reform since it committed the nation to total war in 1939, there is a simple question: is Whitehall up for Brexit?

Read full article Article 50: Is Whitehall ready for Brexit?

Brexit memo to Boris Johnson: Don't mention the War

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in The Germans, am episode of Fawlty Towers
Image caption Basil Fawlty discovered that some subjects were taboo

Like some latter-day Basil Fawlty, Boris Johnson mentioned the War and didn't get away with it.

The foreign secretary urged the French president not to "administer punishment beatings" on Britain for choosing to escape the EU "rather in the manner of some World War Two movie".

Read full article Brexit memo to Boris Johnson: Don't mention the War