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Liberal Democrat MP criticises British Council closures

September 9, 2021 2:46 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrat European Group

Wendy Chamberlain (Official Portrait Wendy Chamberlain - https://members.parliament.uk/member/4765/portrait)North East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain moved a "Westminister Hall" debate (transcript here) on Wednesday 8th September criticising the closure of offices of the British Council, an important cultural institution financed by the British Government.

As Wendy noted "the British Council was created [in 1934] in response to a changing global stage: the United Kingdom was losing its traditional forms of influence, extreme ideologies were on the rise around the world and there was a global economic crisis."

Wendy continued that "those problems may not sound unfamiliar to the Minister and others here today as he and his Cabinet colleagues seek to re-establish the UK as a global power outside the EU, respond to extreme ideologies at home and abroad, as we have devastatingly seen over the last few weeks, and tackle the economic and social implications of the pandemic and the climate crisis. Clearly, the British Council remains as relevant today as it has ever been."

Wendy, supported by Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, criticised the lack of funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the work of the Council and in particular noted that the Council's commercial work had been hampered by the Covid crisis and the reduction in revenue. This meant that the British Council was unable to fulfil much of its role to promote the United Kingdom and deliver "soft-power" benefits.

The full debate can be heard here (from 16:00):

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/c9e12271-7c72-4e51-8fcc-05623ee41b96