Cameron's challenges: the UK's global standing, the economy and the EU

Cameron's challenges: the UK's global standing, the economy and the EU
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Transcript of Question and Answer video with World Review expert Luke Coffey on the challenges facing the new UK government: the economy, the EU, and the UK's global standing.

What do you see as the biggest test for the new UK government?

Luke Coffey:

There will be three big challenges for the Conservative party heading into this government.

The first one will be keeping its majority. Right now, it only has a majority of 12 - if you don’t count the four Sinn Fein Irish Nationalist MP’s who never take their seats.

It gives them a defacto majority of 16 but David Cameron is going to have a problem inside his own party, keeping party discipline on some very contentious issues.

The second biggest test for the government will be keeping the economy growing at the rate that it currently is. Right now, it is the fastest growing economy in the G7. We see the lowest unemployment rates in the UK over seven years, and during the Queen’s speech, out of the 26 bills that were announced, a vast majority of them deal in someway or another with the economy.

And finally, we have the third big test and that's the EU. David Cameron has said he thinks it's in Britain's interest to stay in the European Union, a reformed European Union, and he has the challenge now to negotiate with his European partners to get these reforms and then to go back to his electorate and make the case on why Britain should stay or leave when they have the referendum in 2017.

In what ways does the UK still stand out as a great power or is it still living on its past greatness?

Luke Coffey:

Britain has a very proud history and sometimes I think Britain is unfairly judged by the previous empire it once ruled over and not with what it actually does today around the world.

It is able to deploy tens of thousands of troops, we have seen this in Afghanistan and Iraq, even with defence cuts they were able to do this.

It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council; it is one of the few countries in the world to have a nuclear deterrent; it holds key command positions across Nato and has the Commonwealth of Nations and its close ties to the USA - so Britain is able to continue to be a great power in the world even though it is facing some defence cuts and cuts to the foreign office at home. And I think sometimes because of how powerful they were in the past we wrongly judge there role in the world today.

How will defence cuts and cuts to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office effect the UK's standing in the world and its capabilities?

Luke Coffey:

Well, even though Britain is an influential and powerful nation around the world there is some legitimate concern about the path that they are heading in terms of defence cuts.

The British government will be holding what the call a strategic defence and security review later this year, 2015. They have already started the work on this and it is likely to be published some time in the autumn.

And this will set up the course for the next five years for the British armed forces and the role that they will play in the world, but there is a concern that they will fall below the 2% of GDP defence spending requirement that Nato sets. There is a concern that some of the capabilities that they might loose will impact its relationship with the United States.

But on balance I think that Britain will still be a leading European military power for sure and will remain in the top tier of global military powers.

(Photo credit: dpa)

  • The United Kingdom general election of 2015 was held on May 7 to elect the country's 56th Parliament.
  • The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, won 330 seats and 36.9% of the vote, winning a working majority of 16.
  • The Conservatives had governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats since 2010.

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