The U.K.’s ambitions to position itself as a global power are facing a setback as a string of domestic political dramas continue to distract the government from its international responsibilities, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.
Speaking to CNBC, the ex-leader of the Labour party — currently in opposition to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives — said that Britain is now being viewed through a lens of scandal as Downing Street battles ongoing revelations of misconduct at the highest levels of government.
“People, I’m afraid, are looking at Britain through the lens of these scandals,” Brown told CNBC’s Tania Bryer on Friday.
Current Prime Minister Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party have been embroiled in scandal following reports of parties and gatherings in Downing Street during periods of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
The scandal, dubbed “partygate,” is the latest in a string of political dramas to have rocked Johnson’s premiership and prompted calls for his resignation — including from within his own party. The outcome of those calls will largely hinge an inquiry into the parties, which is due to be published as soon as this week.
It comes as Britain seeks to establish new diplomatic and trade ties in the face of a post-Brexit future.
“Outside of the European Union, we’ve been trying to formulate this idea that there can be a global Britain, a Britain that can be a problem solver,” said Brown, a staunch advocate of remaining in the EU.
“The problem is, when you’re engulfed in scandal as the government is, it is making very little contribution.”
Among the plethora issues the U.K. should be focusing on are the crisis in Ukraine, global vaccination efforts, the political turmoil in Afghanistan, and climate change, said Brown.
“These are long-term decisions that have got to be made, and if you’re focusing only on the short term survival of a few ministers, then you’re not actually dealing with the big problems that the public want you to address.”