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What Are the British Tories Thinking?

State of the Union: The British Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee needs to relearn history. 

Royal,Navy,Ensign,Flying,In,The,Wind,On,A,Sunny
Credit: Anita van den Broek

“If Taiwan is invaded, the U.S. will need to lead on it alongside Japan, Korea and Australia, and we in Europe will have to lead on Ukraine, and we’ll have to turn around and say to the U.S., we cannot give you what you want in support for Taiwan.” So said the British MP Alicia Kearns, the conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. ​ 

“When it comes to the Democrats, our message has been, use some muscle, stop bunkering down, don’t let the Republicans set your agenda on foreign policy,” Kearns continued. “You put the word China in anything, it passes on the Hill.”

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The whole report is something. It is not only that the chair of the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee is openly interfering and taking sides against her American conservative counterparts. It is also not the fact that she cannot read the room, or understand whither the winds are blowing, not only in her own country, but across the Anglosphere and Western Europe. It is also not her imbecilic confidence that her voice will add anything to the debate, coupled with total idiocy of giving the “add China to everything” game away openly in American media. It is her absurd belief that Europe or Britain can actually make a difference in the question of Taiwan. 

The British parliament once boasted of some of the sharpest realists in the history of humanity, from Castlereagh to Canning to Curzon. Now it hosts ornaments such as Kearns. Her resume is exactly what you might expect. Social sciences from Cambridge. Communications job in the Defence Ministry. Independent consultant, with focus on “disinformation” and victims’ issues. “Expertise” in the private sector ranging from “countering violent extremism” to “NGOs shaping stronger communities.” Youngest female chair of the Foreign Affairs committee. Strong supporter of transgender rights. As recently as in July, she claimed that Serbia was smuggling weapons and storing them in Orthodox churches. Her own ambassador to Serbia, as well as the NATO mission, said that there is no evidence to that claim. 

The whole thing is frankly absurd. Britain cannot field a standing army worth sending anywhere. It risks falling below 60,000 troops—a force that can fit in a baseball stadium. Britain has no ready airborne or seaborne expeditionary forces operationally prepared to go solo across the world at a moment’s notice. The once formidable global hegemonic guard, the Royal Navy, cannot provide fleet support and escorts to its own carrier group. British manufacturing is nonexistent; British heavy industry has eroded beyond recognition. British forces suffer from a combination of lack of practice and DEI-infused “crisis of competence,” as evident from a Royal Navy minehunter backing into one of their own ships during a deployment in Bahrain. 

Of course, Britain remains the preponderant naval and nuclear power in Europe. Yet that is not saying much. Occasional British naval action in support of America is fundamentally a prestige issue. It provides international legitimacy; it is not materially required. America, with near equivalent manpower as the European continent and an R&D behemoth that dwarfs the E.U.’s, doesn’t need Britain. Britain, as a maritime power, needs America, especially in the face of the Anglophile and Europhobic return of Trump. It therefore makes no realpolitik sense for the wet British “conservatives” to alienate the rising realist and nationalist tide within America. Foederati don’t get to dictate imperial grand strategy or take sides in the internal debates of the metropole. 

Nevertheless, it does provide a comical opportunity. If this is the game Kearns and the Tories want to play, let them play it. In fact, the British conservatives are facing an electoral massacre which will culminate in a purge and power struggle within the Tory party after the election. By Kearns’s own logic, American MAGA forces should throw their weight behind the one most aligned with the Trumpian realist foreign policy and immigration views and propel him or her to the Tory leadership position. Suella Braverman, perhaps? 

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