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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

'We Thought We Were Friends!': Franco-British Bilateral Diplomacy and the Shock of Brexit


The British vote to leave the European Union in 2016 shook the Franco-British bilateral relationship (FBBR) to its core and led to unexpected tensions, considering the depth of cooperation between the two countries in many fields, and their geography. In this article we analyse the impact of Brexit on the FBBR to date, including the likely aftershocks. We focus on the 2017-2020 Brexit negotiations themselves, and on the matters that escaped those negotiations but which are core to the FBBR namely: security and defence; borders and migration. We draw on a number of high-level interviews with French and British officials and on literatures of contemporary diplomacy to ask how the new environment for the FBBR challenges traditional ways of conducting bilateral diplomacy outside of the multilateral framework provided by the European Union.




Helen Drake (United Kingdom)

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