With its bitter, drawn-out divorce from the European Union now complete, there’s been much debate over whether Great Britain is still, well, great.[1]Critics of Britain’s EU exit (commonly called “Brexit”) worry that a Britain cut off from the EU will have a diminished role in the world, while Brexit supporters believe a Britain independent of the EU’s bureaucracy will be more vibrant and more “global,” in the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.[2]Which side is right?

Measuring Stick

Most European nations view the EU as a way to magnify their stature in an era marked by diminishing demographic, political and economic clout relative to America, China and India. But in recent years, a majority of Britons came to view the EU as a fetter on British sovereignty and a drain on British power. Johnson argues Britain had “become infantilized” by the “nanny in Brussels”—a reference to EU headquarters.[3]

Johnson sees post-Brexit Britain as “outward-looking,” “engaged with the world” and unapologetically pro-American. “I say to all the naïve and juvenile anti-Americans in this country,” he recently jabbed, “grow up and get a grip.”[4]

For Johnson and other Brexiters, a Britain outside the EU will be free to reassert its sovereignty and renew its role as a global force. “We will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades,”[5]Johnson cheered as Britain parted ways with the EU.

To be sure, Britain is not the empire it was a century ago, and Johnson has no plans to rebuild the British Empire. However, Britain was a great power before it joined the Common Market, before the European Community tried to turn itself into a United States of Europe, before the EU adopted a flag, a currency, a faux foreign minister and a smothering 271-page quasi-constitution.[6]  And Britain will remain a great power now that it has parted ways with the EU. Just consider some of the key measures of geopolitical power.

Britain’s population ranks 22nd in the world. Yet Britain boasts the world’s ninth-largest economy, ranks 10th in world in exports, is home to 17 of the world’s richest companies,[7]and serves as the world’s main financial and banking hub. In fact, Britain is the world’s leading foreign-exchange market, with almost double the financial-services exports of the U.S.[8]

Military Strength
Britain invests $60.76 billion on defense—the second-highest amount in NATO. Owing to its investment in defense—and close integration with the U.S. in defense and intelligence—Britain has one the world’s most advanced militaries.[9]As U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace puts it, Britain is “the only Day 1, Tier 1 partner capable of fighting alongside the U.S. in the most contested environments.”[10]

When it comes to projecting power, Britain is one of just six nations with an operational, full-fledged aircraft carrier—not an amphibious landing ship or helicopter carrier. Britain boasts two of the maritime behemoths, and both are brand new. [11]Moreover, Britain is one of just eight nations that (officially) possess nuclear weapons.[12]In fact, Britain expanded its nuclear arsenal last year.[13]

Ever since British ships first set sail for faraway lands, Britain has had an outsized influence on culture around the world. Indeed, from high art and pop culture to governance, language and economics, Britain is a cultural superpower.

Great Britain’s fingerprints are visible wherever there is the rule of law, constitutional-parliamentary government and liberal economics. Many of Britain’s former colonies remain part of what’s called the British Commonwealth—a voluntary association of 54 independent states and 2.4 billion people stretching from Australia to Grenada to Zambia committed to “the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity.”[14]

English is the world’s lingua franca. EU institutions ironically conduct most all of their business in English.[15]

Britain is the home of Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen, Orwell, Lewis and Tolkien, Adele, the Beatles and Handel (he penned “Messiah” after becoming a British subject[16]). And most Americans are unaware that some of our favorite TV shows—“The Office,” “House of Cards,”[17]“Veep,” even what we call “American Idol”[18]—were imported from Britain.

Science and Discovery
Three of the top 10 universities in the world are found in Britain—including top-ranked Oxford.[19]Britain boasts the second-largest fraternity of Nobel laureates—behind the U.S.—even though Britain has a smaller population than Germany, France, Japan or Russia, all of which trail the U.K.[20]

Given this wellspring of knowledge, it’s no surprise that Brits are on the leading edge of the fight against COVID19. The British firm Synairgen has developed an effective antiviral treatment. And the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is effective, inexpensive, and easier to store and transport than other COVID19 vaccines, which must be kept at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in a typical refrigerator.[21]

In response to Beijing’s rollback of Hong Kong’s special independent status, Britain offered 3 million Hong Kong citizens a pathway to British citizenship.[22][23]Following Britain’s lead, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is urging the State Department to give Hongkongers special refugee status.[24]It’s no wonder why Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement flies the Union Jack (and Old Glory).[25]

In response to Beijing’s criminal mishandling of COVID19,Johnson—himself a COVID19 survivor—scrapped plans to allow PRC-backed Huawei to build Britain’s 5G telecommunications network. Instead, Britain is calling on the D10—a partnership of 10 democracies enfolding the G7, Australia, South Korea and India—to pool their technological resources, build on their shared values and harness their interoperability to create an uncompromised 5G network.[26][27][28]

British members of Parliament played a lead role in organizing the new Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. Comprised of senior lawmakers from Britain, America and other democracies, IPAC is helping its members coordinate responses to Beijing’s relentless assault on human rights and international security.[29]

Britain’s special relationship with the U.S. magnifies Britain’s role in the world. It also serves U.S. interests by serving as a force-multiplier for U.S. power.

The freshest piece of evidence pointing toward Britain’s role as a great power is the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s newest aircraft carrier. The massive warship—the largest ever deployed by Britain—is conducting sea trials and will be combat-operational in 2021.[30]A second carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, will be combat-operational in 2023.[31]Each ship carries 36 F-35 stealth fighter-bombers.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy both British and American F-35s—an “unprecedented” level of integration, according to British Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Jerry Kyd.[32][33] In fact, the first plane to land on the Queen Elizabeth was an American F-35.[34]This is not a short-term arrangement. British officials revealed in 2015 that the U.S. and U.K. plan “to fly aircraft from each other’s ships.”[35]That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the U.S.-U.K. alliance.

·        To keep British naval aviators proficient as their new carriers were built, the U.S. allowed its closest ally to deploy personnel on American carriers for flight operations and training.[36][37]

·        Some 9,300 U.S. troops are stationed in Britain; scores of U.S. Coast Guardsmen have served with the Royal Navy since 2014;[38] and 750 British personnel are stationed in America.[39] The RAF has a special UCAV unit at Creech AFB, Nev. British submarines dock at the U.S. base in Kings Bay, Ga.[40] Likewise, Britain allows the U.S. military to maintain bases on the British territory of Diego Garcia, and a number of U.S. assets nest at facilities in the U.K.[41]

·        Britain and the U.S. recently formed “Team Artemis”—a unit of military personnel from both nations charged with deploying a constellation of low-earth-orbit satellites that relay data to allied warplanes.[42]

·        “Every major in the British Army spends two weeks at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College,” reports British Army Brigadier James Carr-Smith.[43]A program approved by both armies commits “a U.K. division to operate effectively within a U.S. corps and a U.K. brigade to operate effectively within a U.S. division, and to enable a U.S. Brigade Combat Team to operate effectively within a U.K. division.”[44]

·        Similarly, Britain plans for its carriers to serve in “a combined U.S.-U.K. carrier strike group,” according to Adm. Tony Radakin, Royal Navy chief of staff.”[45]Kyd adds, “We’re not talking about interoperability…we’re talking about proper integration to a level we’ve never seen.”[46]

This deepening integration is the culmination of what began during World War II, when British troops served under American command, and Americans under British command.[47] Indeed, when Winston Churchill coined the phrase “special relationship” to describe the U.S.-U.K. alliance, he envisioned “common study of potential dangers,” “similarity of weapons,” “the interchange of officers,” “intimate relationship between our military advisers,” and “joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases.” Ever the visionary, Churchill understood that America and Britain “will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs.” Somewhere, Churchill is smiling.

Great and Good
Wallace describes the British armed forces as “the spear of Global Britain.” Great Britain is brandishing that spear in most of the world’s hotspots.[48]

Ensuring Freedom of the Seas
TheQueen Elizabeth’s maiden deployment will be to the Pacific.[49]This is tangible evidence of Britain’s crucial role as a force-multiplier, especially as the U.S. Navy strains to maintain a presence everywhere it’s needed—from the South China Sea and North Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.

To answer Beijing’s illegal[50]island-building efforts in the South China Sea, British warships have teamed up with American warships for joint maneuvers in the vital international waterway.[51]British forces also have joined the U.S., Japan and France for military exercises around Guam and Tinian.[52]

The Royal Navy is a key part of Combine Task Force 150, the multinational maritime component of the war on terror that conducts operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and northern Indian Ocean.[53]Britain also has contributed to Combined Task Force 151, which is focused on counterpiracy off the Horn of Africa.[54]And Britain contributes to Combined Task Force 152, which focuses on maritime security in the Arabian Gulf.[55]

Britain and the U.S. partnered in 2019 to form a 10-nation maritime coalition to protect the Persian Gulf against Iranian piracy. The Royal Navy took command of the armada in 2020.[56]And Britain recently opened a naval base in Bahrain,[57]which serves as headquarters for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.[58]

Defending NATO
Britain commands and hosts NATO’s Rapid Reaction Corps, which coordinates thousands of personnel from 23 nations.[59]A British taskforce leads NATO’s forward-deployed battlegroup in Estonia.[60]The Royal Air Force is a lead member of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission.[61]A British brigade is assigned to NATO’s 10,000-man Joint Expeditionary Force, which is focused on security in the North Atlantic, Arctic and Baltics.[62]In May 2020, after countless Russian incursions into NATO airspace and seaspace, the Royal Navy joined the U.S. Navy in a show of force in Moscow’s backyard, as a flotilla of surface ships sailed into the Barents Sea for the first time since the Cold War.[63] And Britain has trained more than 9,500 Ukrainian military personnel.[64]Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, it is under assault from NATO’s main adversary.[65]

Fighting Jihadists
Britain was one of just seven countries to join the U.S. in conducting airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.[66]Britain conducted the second-largest share of airstrikes against ISIS, after the U.S.[67][68]And Britain was one of an even smaller handful countries to join the U.S. in deploying ground troops for kinetic operations.[69]At least three British personnel have been killed fighting ISIS in Iraq/Syria, most recently in March 2020.[70]Britain recently dispatched 300 troops to Mali to confront a new ISIS toehold.[71]

Britain has stood with America in Afghanistan from the very beginning of the war on terror. About a thousand British troops remain in Afghanistan (down from a high of 10,000[72]). Some 450 British troops have died in Afghanistan; 179 died fighting Saddam Hussein’s terrorist tyranny. None of America’s other allies have sacrificed more.[73]

Virtually everywhere American personnel are in harm’s way, there are British personnel fighting, marching, sailing and flying alongside them. In short, Britain is not only a great power; Britain is a good friend.

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/goodbye-europe-after-years-brexit-turmoil-britain-finally-leaves-e-n1127581







[8]https://www.thecityuk.com/assets/2018/Reports-PDF/94053cfc7b/Key-facts-about-the-UK-as-an-international-financial-centre-2018.pdf p.13.





[13] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3089130/china-boosts-its-nuclear-arsenal-worlds-stockpile-shrinks








[21]https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/12/09/coronavirs-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine-to-immunize-the-planet-more-effectively-lancet-editor-says.html  https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/07/18/donald-trump-is-hoping-for-a-covid-19-treatment-by-november?utm_campaign=coronavirus-special-edition&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2020-07-18&utm_content=article-link-3 and https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/07/20/trials-of-a-vaccine-and-new-drug-raise-hope-of-beating-covid-19?fsrc=newsletter&utm_campaign=the-economist-today&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2020-07-20&utm_content=article-link-1


















[39]https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/where-us-troops-are-in-the-middle-east-and-could-now-be-a-target-visualized/2020/01/04/1a6233ee-2f3c-11ea-9b60-817cc18cf173_story.html and DoD, “Military and Civilian Personnel by Service/Agency by State/Country,”https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dwp/dwp_reports.jsp and MoD, https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-defence-staff-in-the-usa, 2020.














[53] https://combinedmaritimeforces.com/ctf-150-maritime-security/





[58] https://www.cusnc.navy.mil/


[60] https://www.army.mod.uk/deployments/baltics/