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Political Research Exchange

Foreign Policy Mistakes and Foreign Policy Vacuums: New Labour and the EU

European Politics
European Union
Oliver Daddow
University of Leicester
Oliver Daddow
University of Leicester

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘fiasco’ as ‘a complete failure, especially a ludicrous or humiliating one’. Whilst certainly not a ‘complete failure’, elements of fiasco accompanied New Labour’s European policy from the outset throughout its time in office. Drawing on Daddow and Gaskarth’s 2011 ‘Identity, Ethics and Power’ model of British foreign policy, this paper will assess the extent to which it is fair to refer to New Labour’s European policy as a ‘fiasco’ by assessing that early decision’s impact on all three components of Britain’s foreign policy orientation across the 1997-2010 period. The paper will argue that, having shied away from a difficult decision on the EU early on in its tenure, Blair in particular has to be held responsible for consolidating rather than challenging Britain’s national culture of Euroscepticism. If not ‘fiasco’ this was certainly a policy sector where the government has to have more regrets than most.
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