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Keywords:

  • Britain;
  • great power;
  • responsibility;
  • Conservative-led government

Hedley Bull argued that for a state to be classed as a great power it must be in the first rank in terms of military strength but also recognised by others to have, and conceived by its own leaders and peoples to have, certain special rights and duties. Adopting this approach, this article argues that Britain's great power credentials are far stronger than commonly appreciated and that, while the term is no longer in vogue, within government the idea that Britain is a great power remains an influential factor in determining British foreign and defence policy.