Page last updated at 20:35 GMT, Tuesday, 15 May 2012 21:35 UK

Alexander lambasts 'imperial delusion' of coalition

There is a "hint of imperial delusion" about the coalition's foreign policy, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has said.

On 15 May 2012, as MPs continued debating the Queen's Speech, focusing on foreign affairs and international development, the Labour spokesman accused ministers of complacency in the face of the current "profound reordering of geo-economics and potentially geo-politics".

The UK's influence overseas was dwindling as a consequence of the UK's "conscious minimalism and strategic shrinkage", Mr Alexander said.

"Britain risks becoming less relevant in the two key relationships which have for decades defined our place in the world," he asserted, as "wealth and power [shifted] from north to south, from west to east".

Ties with both the EU and the US are becoming less close, Mr Alexander explained, because "this government does not appear to have a compass to navigate the changes we are now witnessing".

He concluded: "Self-congratulation, schadenfreude and a hint of imperial delusion is not a recipe for a serious strategy in these troubled times."

Opening the debate, Mr Hague told MPs that, far from shrinking, the FCO's presence overseas would be bolstered by "up to 11 new British embassies and eight new consulates for trade offices" by 2015.

Mr Hague characterised the government's foreign policy as "confident advance and diplomatic expansion".

"I believe we can forge new opportunities for our nation while standing up for human rights, development and freedom around the world," he told MPs.

The Queen's Speech announced two bills covering the government's relationship with the European Union.

The Croatia Accession Bill will approve Croatia's joining of the EU.

The European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill ratifies the creation of a new European bailout agreement between eurozone countries, from which the UK is exempt.

The government expects to meet this foreign aid target by next year, but has opted not to enshrine its commitment to aid spending in law.

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