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Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the past twelve months have seen significant shifts of US policy on issues ranging from climate change and international trade agreements, to the Middle East and nuclear proliferation. In some cases, such as the recent declaration by the Trump Administration that it would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, these decisions have reversed decades of US policy. Further, the ‘America-First’ agenda promoted by President Trump, and the new US National Security Strategy published in December 2017, potentially has significant implications for international relations around the world.

Against such a backdrop, the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the United States and the United Kingdom has arguably been subject to even more intense scrutiny, particularly as the UK seeks to define its global role in preparation for its withdrawal from the European Union. In particular, opportunities for cooperation such as a mooted bilateral trade deal, and areas of disagreement such as the US’s stance on the Iranian nuclear deal, have prompted a number of questions about the potential nature of future relations between the two countries, and the wider ramifications.

To explore these issues, this Briefing examines recent developments in US foreign policy, and the UK’s reaction to them. It then specifically examines UK-US relations, particularly with regard to UK foreign policy and international relations post-Brexit, and examines how that relationship might evolve in future.

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