Today I issue the second in my series of dispatches as new Ambassador at Large to the Court of St Boris (sorry, I mean, St James), addressed to the President of the Small Island Developing State which I currently represent, "Sid" for short.🧵
Excellency, I bid you greetings on the New Year, and health and happiness for our people. Following my "first impressions" dispatch on the state of the UK, in this telegram I shall identify some of the opportunities I foresee in 2022 for our relationship with this noble Kingdom.
First, trade. I believe we have an opportunity to secure a new deal on excellent terms, as the UK, facing new red tape & decline in trade with EU, is desperate (I mean, "keen") to achieve results elsewhere. More favourable than the existing EU deal, to which the UK used to belong
This could include less bothersome labour or environmental requirements; and enhanced access for our agricultural goods, in return for us buying more fish from the UK, and allowing UK boats to fish in our waters (if they can get here...we are many 1000s miles away).
Second, new immigration benefits, as UK govt, having ended FOM, now finding itself short of workers, and also anxious to dispel any perception of racism behind Brexit, is now opening up more immigration to the rest of the world. [Albeit to the surprise/dismay of some Brexiters].
Third, plenty of opportunities to benefit from exchanges of Best Practice - as the UK has always been keen to offer itself as an example of democracy to the world, and the govt is introducing a flurry of new bills in parliament, from which we can learn.
Including curtailing rights of protest; limiting ability to expose govt wrongdoing via whistleblowers; watering down Human Rights Act; various new election changes making it harder to vote, disproportionately affecting minorities, and giving govt new powers over Electoral Commn;
Of particular relevance to us, a new Nationality and Borders Bill involving tighter asylum laws, incl allowing seekers to be towed out to sea, and be processed "offshore"; to remove citizenship of those born overseas or with dual nationality, without notification;
The bills include practices for which we have often been criticized by the UK, but presumably no longer; all the more ironic, since we traditionally have hosted 10x more refugees per capita than the UK, despite being a lower income country; and now have a good human rights record
Also, new measures limiting citizens ability to challenge the govt in the courts, and for govt to reject court rulings it doesn't like. We could seek to do the same, though our country, modelled on UK legal system, continues to have high respect for rule of law.
However, fourth, I believe we could cite the UK model if we wish to invoke our own "Article 16" clause to get out of the treaty we recently negotiated with our neighbors, over which I understand your Excellency is now harboring some doubts.
In order to achieve some of these opportunities, avoid potential risks, and maintain a strong bilateral relationship, may I humbly offer Your Excellency a few suggestions about our own approach.
First, to avoid giving any offence, we must no longer refer to Brexit by name. The govt has now decreed that civil servants must stop using this term, but instead refer to "31 Dec 2020", and it would be wise for us to follow suit.
Second, to preempt any discreet enquiries about Prince Andrew becoming our new Governor, we might wish to accelerate our process of leaving the CW, tho' not before the Queen's Jubilee this year, to avoid offending her Majesty. Do not mention Meghan either.
Third, to grease the wheels of our relationship, especially over trade, I request permission to raise my entertainment allowance to at least 140 pounds per capita, to cover the cost of wining & dining British Ministers, and use the same restaurant every time, run by a Tory donor.
Fourth, thanks to your Excellency's superb stewardship of our own country's health, as a gesture of goodwill, we could perhaps offer some of our excess PCR capacity and nursing staff to the UK, to alleviate its current dire covid rates, and overwhelmed health system.
Fifth, if the situation in Northern Ireland destabilizes due to continuing tension over the protocol, we could offer our country's expert peacekeeping battalion to help maintain calm. A nice act of reciprocity for all those times UK has offered us its peacemaking expertise.
Sixth, due to FCDO budget cuts, they probably will seek to close the new embassy which was opened to great fanfare only two years ago as part of Global Britain. We could not only offer to buy it back at cost, but also help minimise negative publicity by saying it was our idea.
Finally, I suggest it's time to increase our engagement with the opposition, who begins to look more plausibly like a govt in waiting; and delicately row back appearances with the PM, whose time may be running out, and whose tactless gaffes as FS greatly offended you anyway.
I hope these suggestions find favour with your Excellency, and remain, your ever humble and faithful servant, etc etc etc.

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More from @alexhallhall

7 Jan
I woke up this morning feeling strangely unsettled...and realised that despite (or perhaps, because of) 30+yrs in conventional govt service, I'm now starting to question everything I thought I once knew about my country and its institutions.
Top down, our system is undemocratic - prerogative powers exercised on behalf of the Crown, unelected House of Lords, system that gives disproportionate powers to govt, elected with less than 50% vote, imbalance in powers across the Union, cozy nexus of donors, media, politicians
Populace kept distracted and entertained with never ending diet of shallow news and gossip about royals, toffs, socialites, models, sports, pop, soaps, crime, etc. Feelgood stories or trivia which gloss over the challenges and inequities which actually prevail in our society.
Read 7 tweets
3 Jan
The comments on this post are amazing...the extraordinary efforts required by civil servants and others to justify their expenses, against this cavalier use of public money. My favorite comment was by someone criticized for buying the "expensive biros"!
I spent literally hundreds of hours over my career both collating, photocopying and itemizing my own expenses, as well as poring over the claims of those I line managed, (feel guilty about this) sometimes order to ensure not even a hint of fraud.
Of course, it's absolutely essential to use public money carefully. However, I once got into serious trouble with the FCDO hierarchy for pointing out that the amount of time spent on such activity and other rigorous internal paperwork also came at a cost.
Read 10 tweets
28 Dec 21
I'm quoted in this article about the decline of the FCDO saying: "The job of foreign secretary no longer necessarily goes to a minister with a long record of thinking about the Uk's strategic challenges..(cont)…
"It is a top prize - one of the top cabinet posts that is given to politicians for their loyalty, or to keep them quiet, or out of the country."
Couple of other quotes in the article came from me also, uncited, including the comments about officials now self-censoring, unable to give honest advice for fear of being accused of being a "Remainer" who can't be trusted. I experienced that directly.
Read 11 tweets
24 Dec 21
Though I may have resigned from the Foreign Office, rumours of my demise as a diplomat are greatly exaggerated. Today I report as the new "Ambassador at Large" to the Court of St James: my first report is the traditional "First Impressions" despatch, titled "Yule Britannia"🧵
SUMMARY: The UK today is far removed from the "Cool Britannia" of a decade ago. Buffeted by crises and scandals, many self-inflicted, trust in the government is plummeting, even as the costs of Brexit become more apparent, and covid takes its toll on a fatigued and divided nation
ECONOMY: This year saw supply chain problems, empty grocery shelves, worker shortages, soaring fuel prices, pigs culled and crops unpicked. While covid played its part, and other countries faced problems, Brexit magnified the impact in UK, though the Government remains in denial.
Read 21 tweets
19 Dec 21
Very good analysis here on implications of Frost's departure. But what I can't imagine is how and with whom BJ replaces him whilst maintaining party unity: I call it "The Goldilocks Problem "🧵
2/ Another hardliner, or even more extreme successor to Frost will only exacerbate relations with EU [and US, if NIP threats continue], worsen business problems, and increase disillusion of even more voters about Brexit, whose results fall far short of what was promised..
3/ But a more moderate pragmatic replacement will alienate ERG rebels and stir up allegations of BJ "selling out". Too soft.
Read 7 tweets
15 Dec 21
My earlier tweets were really just limbering up for today's 🧵, dissecting Penny Mordaunt's speech at the Carter Centre in Atlanta's a bit all over the place, frankly, and I am afraid this is not my best effort either, but here goes...…
First: location: the Carter Center founded by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter has a "fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health"
Mordaunt makes barely a passing reference to the Carters or their work; instead focusing almost entirely on the UK & Brexit, pitching it as "a massive opportunity to anyone who believes in democracy and the power of trade as a force for good in the world."
Read 17 tweets

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