UK foreign policy (general): Declassified

These declassified files on general aspects of UK foreign policy highlight the UK’s actual interests as perceived by planners, reasons for special relations with the US and attitudes towards ‘development’ and the United Nations,among other policies.


Foreign Office, ‘British foreign policy: Opportunities and dangers’, 1975

Foreign Office, ‘The New International Economic Order’, 1975

Foreign Office, British foreign policy, ‘The scope for change’, 1974

Foreign Office, ‘Potential problems in British foreign policy’, 1974

Foreign Office, ‘Britain in an altered world: The outlook for foreign policy’, 1974

Foreign Office, British policy towards the United Nations, 1970

Foreign Office, British policy towards Israel, the Arab states and the US, 1970

Cabinet Defence and Oversea [sic] Policy Committee, ‘Issue of foreign policy’, 1970

Tony Parsons, UK ambassador to UN, Note to FCO, 1969

H.W.King, FCO, Note to FCO Planning Staff, 1969

Foreign Office, British Foreign Policy, 1968

Foreign Office, British policy towards the United States, 1968

Permanent Under Secretary’s Steering Committee, SC(68)20, Review Committee on Overseas Representation: The basic assumptions, 1968 (click here)

Denis Allen, Permanent Under Secretary, FCO, to all heads of post, 1968 (click here)

PUS’s Planning Committee: ‘Comments received from posts on paper entitled “Sources and means of influence in the modern world’”, 1968 (click here)

Foreign Office, The British interest in oil, 1967

Cabinet Office, ‘The main objectives of the UK’s Overseas Policy’, 1960

Cabinet Office, Unilateral nuclear disarmament, 1960

Cabinet Office, ‘The Main Objectives of the United Kingdom’s Overseas and Strategic Policy’, January 1960

R.Wilding, Treasury, draft paper, ‘Flexibility in the national economy in relation to defence and allied expenditure’, 13 October 1959 (click here)

Steering Committee of the Future Policy Group, ‘The future of Anglo-American relations’, Draft, October 1959 (click here)

Joint paper by the FCO and Treasury for the Working group for the Future Policy study, ‘Developments in Western Europe’, 12 August 1959 (click here)

J.Downie, Treasury official to R.Clarke, Permanent Under Secretary, Treasury, 3 July 1959 (click here)

Treasury paper for the Future Policy project, ‘Economic strength’, July 1959 (click here)

Cabinet Office, ‘British overseas obligations’, 1958

Foreign Office, ‘What are our essential interests overseas?’, 1957

‘UK and US officials discuss cluster bombs’ (US State Department, 21 May 2009)

‘Cluster bomb talks a tactical manoeuvre, UK says’ (US Embassy, France, 12 February 2008)


Mark Curtis, Britain’s Principal Global Economic Goals (Extract from Unpeople, 2003)

What has Wikileaks revealed about the Blair and Brown governments‘ (Defend Wikileaks, 2019)

‘Secret documents reveal UK “complicit” in controversial US drone wars’ (Herald Scotland, 25 September 2016)

‘GCHQ documents raise fresh questions over UK complicity in US drone strikes’ (Guardian, 24 June 2015)

‘Nasty not nice: British counter-insurgency doctrine and practice, 1945–1967’ (David French, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 2012)

‘National Archives 1980: SAS to be given immunity for killing foreigners’ (Guardian, 30 December 2010)

‘WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban’ (Guardian, 1 December 2010)

‘History of MI6 detailed in new book’ (BBC, 21 September 2010)

‘US embassy cables: UK and US officials discuss cluster bombs’ (Guardian, 21 May 2009)

‘Heaven help us! PM panic over country’s defences (in 1978)’ (Guardian, 30 December 2008)