What do Trump's words on Iran mean for US/UK relations?

  • 13 October 2017
  • From the section UK
US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

There was a time when President Trump's refusal to certify the Iran nuclear deal would have sent the British foreign policy establishment into a tailspin.

His campaign attacks on what he called "the worst deal in the world" left policymakers in the UK fearing that here, finally, was an issue on which Britain's relationship with the US could founder.

Mr Trump believes that Iran is no longer restricting its nuclear programme enough to justify the sanctions relief it enjoys. As such, he will no longer certify US support for the agreement. The UK disagrees and believes Iran is complying fully. These are two positions that cannot be reconciled.

British ministers and officials loathe being at odds with Washington. They find it a culturally difficult place for them to be. And as they prepare to leave one traditional pillar of British foreign policy, the European Union, they want to stick even more closely to the other pillar, namely the United States.

So for the UK and the US to be utterly divided over a central plank of international policy is no little thing. Britain had to choose between its allies in America and Europe and it has taken the path of its continental partners.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The agreement on a nuclear deal with Iran was announced in April 2015

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EU looks away as Catalan crisis unfolds

  • 2 October 2017
  • From the section Europe
Crowds listen to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speak via a televised press conference at the Placa de Catalunya on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Catalan separatists celebrated in Barcelona after polls closed

So where the cries of outrage? Where the statements of condemnation, the tweets of shock at the violence meted out on the voters of Catalonia at the hands of the Spanish police?

In Europe's capitals there has been an echoing silence. Most heads of government - who feel quite able to respond to the slightest turn of the Brexit saga - appear to have lost their tongues.

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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.

Read full article What are the UK's commitments to overseas territories?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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