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Nick Robinson reports for BBC News
"On the Euro there was no new policy"
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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 07:51 GMT
Blair: UK becoming a pivotal power
Tony Blair: "We have a new role"

Tony Blair has set out his vision of a United Kingdom at the crux of world affairs.

No longer do we want to be taken seriously just for our history, but for what we are and what we will become
Tony Blair
The prime minister told an audience of 750 guests at the Lord Mayor's banquet that the UK had left behind its imperial past and could play the role of a "pivotal power" in world politics.

In a major foreign policy speech Mr Blair said the UK had a new role at the "crux" of international alliances like the Commonwealth, the United Nations, and the European Union.

"We have got over our imperial past - and the withdrawal symptoms.

'Open and dynamic'

"We have a new role - not to look back and try to re-create ourselves as the pre-eminent superpower of 1900, nor to pretend to be the Greeks to the American's Romans.

"It is to use the strengths of our history to build our future not as a superpower but as a pivotal power, as a power that is at the crux of the alliances and international politics which shape the world and its future."

The prime minister told the audience in London's Guildhall that the UK should be "engaged, open and dynamic, a partner, and, where possible, a leader in ideas and in influence".

This could be achieved by using what he identified as the UK's "formidable network" of international contacts, including the Commonwealth, membership of the UN Security Council, Nato, the G8 and the European Union.

The UK's role in the world was further strengthened, he added, by the country's economic position and the fact that its armed forces were engaged in peace-keeping roles across the world.

A nation of innovators

Mr Blair's upbeat analysis continued with the prediction that globalisation would see the growth of the UK's influence.

This was aided in part by the fact that the English language is the language of much of the new technology forcing the pace of change, he said.

Those who argue for isolationism and unilateralism would in reality condemn their country to increasing impotence
Tony Blair
Turning to what he said was the nations' sense of invention Mr Blair said: "The true British genius is creative.

"We are pioneers, explorers, innovators."

In the final passages of his speech Mr Blair passionately turned his back on the idea that countries were strongest when they acted alone.

He acknowledged that although the argument was "powerful", it was wrong.

Sharing sovereignty for the common good was a sign of strength he argued, and added that :"By working together, nation states can extend their authority.

"By working together, they can effectively tackle problems they were powerless to address on their own."

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See also:
15 Nov 99 |  Africa
The real Commonwealth Summit
21 Nov 99 |  Europe
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