British Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 42–62 | Cite as

From liberal interventionism to liberal conservatism: The short road in foreign policy from Blair to Cameron

  • Victoria Honeyman
Original Article


This article focuses on foreign policy during the Premierships of Gordon Brown and David Cameron, with a particular emphasis on the legacy bequeathed by Tony Blair. It is often assumed that the foreign policy landscape was fundamentally altered by Blair, and that his successors have followed his path, due perhaps to a lack of other options. The article will argue that the Blair doctrine of Liberal interventionism and the emphasis placed on the ‘ethical dimensions’ to foreign policy was largely a marketing exercise and changed very little in practical terms. The article will consider Blair’s approach to foreign policy before assessing whether his successors have genuinely pursued an ethically driven foreign policy or whether they have simply justified their actions in ‘ethical’ terms while continuing a more pragmatic, self-interested foreign policy. Did they learn the lessons of Blair or have they simply been forced to clear up the mess he left behind? Overall, this article will argue that the pragmatic style of foreign policymaking, which existed before Blair continued during his time as Prime Minister and has subsequently been adopted by his successors, with any changes in foreign policy being largely presentational rather than representing any type of meaningful change.


Brown Cameron Blair interventionism conservatism ethical 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Honeyman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Politics and International Studies, University of LeedsLeedsUK

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