Cover: Defence Industrial Power

Defence Industrial Power

Understanding the UK's Post-Brexit Role

Published in: International Politics (2023). doi: 10.1057/s41311-023-00516-x

Posted on rand.org Sep 29, 2023

by Rebecca Lucas, Benedict Wilkinson

The British government has argued that the UK's first-class, knowledge-driven economy supports the country's claim to be a global power. However, in the area of defence science and technology, this proposition is not entirely persuasive. While the UK has a significant defence industry and is a major defence exporter, it has long underinvested in defence research and development compared to its European peers. Further, a significant dependence on imports raises questions about the UK's ability to maintain freedom of action in its foreign and defence policy. This speaks to a broader, persistent tension in UK foreign policy post-Brexit: the gap between aspirations towards global influence and the resources available to pursue that ambition. Based on an interrogation of four propositions, this article argues that the UK retains considerable potential post-Brexit, but that it faces several obstacles in developing its defence industrial power.

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