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Review: Inside the Foreign Office, Part 1

“More than fifty shades of diplomacy.”

So says Britain’s Ambassador talking about the nuances of international relations in a BBC documentary about the Foreign Office, the first part of which was shown last week.

It opens just after the 2017 election, with Boris addressing the assembled ranks in the Foreign Office. Typically, he talks about the fate of the Conservative Party in front of impartial civil servants.

He talked about wanting to go to Tehran – and we all know how his dealings with the Iranians ended up for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Permanent Secretary, Sir Simon MacDonald, talked about the nature of diplomacy, describing how 17th century ambassador Sir Henry Wootton “Am ambassador is an honest man sent aboard to ie for the benefit of his country.” MacDonald pointed out the triple entendre –  lying meant lazing about and sleeping around as well as not telling the truth. His modern take was that the art of diplomacy is “letting other people have your way”

Sir Simon talked about the changing status of UK – how we were the biggest, most important power before World War 1. It’s all changed since then.

We’re now in second group of countries not able to do much by themselves. So, clearly, it’s really sensible for us to be leaving an enormous collaboration of nations.

We then went to our UN mission in New York where aides were prepping Boris for talks with the Russians who had requested aid to rebuild Syria – which they have helped destroy. They discussed  various ways of how they could use that request to get rid of Assad and ensuing humanitarian access.

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  • User AvatarRob Parsons 19th Dec - 12:21pm
    The sentence that reads "However, it has its" should read "However, it has its own food bank".
  • User AvatarP.J. 19th Dec - 11:55am
    @Mark Argent @John King I agree entirely. Problem is that we have to be realistic. Given the human condition, it is unfortunately, quicker and easier...
  • User AvatarWilliam Le Breton 19th Dec - 11:33am
    Of course I welcome the fact that we have finally come round to the obvious course of tabling (almost) our own vote of no confidence...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th Dec - 11:26am
    @David Raw ! I am not as you know saying that PCSOs are equivalent to full-time police officers. To say that is to completely and...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:32am
    On second thoughts, perhaps that sentence should have read ‘Intellect 1 Common Sense 0’. And no, I’m not going to name the MP, although I...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Dec - 10:13am
    @Jayne Mansfield The trouble with all Representatives, from Parliament down (or should it be ‘up’) to Parish Council, is that you don’t need any qualification...