UK Sanctions Policy faces uncertain future...


Britain’s global standing is underpinned by sanctions imposed on regimes and for behaviours that have been judged to work against the wider interests of citizens, law and order.

Parliament has today published a report on sanctions after Brexit.  Without swift agreement on the way forward, the findings paint an “unappealing choice between imposing less effective unilateral sanctions, or aligning with more effective EU sanctions - the design of which we have not influenced” according Lord Horam.  

“It is not yet clear what the Government's proposed 'tailored arrangement' with the EU on sanctions policy would involve.”

Key findings:

  • After Brexit, the UK will have the right to unilaterally impose sanctions.  However, restrictive measures are most effective when imposed at the same time as other countries.

  • The principal interests and threats facing the both UK and the EU-27 will not change fundamentally with Brexit.

  • The Committee welcomed the Government's intention to continue to work in close partnership with the EU - and other international partners - after Brexit.  However, it was noted that the Government's proposed 'tailored' and 'unprecedented' approach to UK-EU collaboration on sanctions policy is untested.

  • It recommends that the UK pursues informal engagement with the EU on sanctions - as does the US.  This is not seen as a substitute for the influence UK currently exercises as part of the EU.

  • If such participation proves impossible - or the UK formally decides not to participate - the Government must establish a UK-EU forum for discussion and co-ordination of sanctions policies.

  • The outcome on sanctions impacts every trading organisation across the UK to some degree.  It is especially significant for Financial Services, where the global financial role of London “heightens the value of sanctions and anti-money laundering at EU and United Nations levels.”

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is developing a dedicated sanctions unit, and depending on the UK’s sanctions policy decisions outside the EU, further resources might be needed.  The UK influence on the sanctions policy of its international partners will depend on the extent to which it is able to retain its authority and leadership on key foreign policy dossiers after Brexit.

John ShuttleworthComment