Modern Bed and Breakfast Situated in 88 Heol Senni, Bettws, Newport
Britain was a colonial power and housed a worldwide empire in the early 20th century, and has played an important role in world history. The country's withdrawal from the EU, Brexit, has been the most important domestic policy issue since 2016.
The United Kingdom is a union made up of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Most of Wales and Scotland are highlands with valleys, lakes and narrow fjords. England and Northern Ireland consist of plains with elongated hills. The British Isles are located on the European continental shelf, with shallow water favorable for fishing.
The climate is temperate with a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Temperatures vary little and are affected by the warm Gulf Stream from Mexico, which flows along the islands' west coast. It is warmest and driest in the south-eastern parts, where the climate is affected by the proximity to the continent. It is the coldest and humidest climate in the north.
The air quality in several British cities is very poor, and emissions from industry pollute drinking water. The authorities launched extensive measures in the 1970s and 80s, which have gradually improved the situation.
The Romans conquered the British Isles in the century BC. Until then, the islands had been inhabited by Celts and other peoples. The Romans withdrew in the 5th century, and in the following centuries the islands were conquered and plundered by the Normans, Vikings and Saxons. Around the year 1100, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were founded. The two neighbors fought many battles until 1707, when they joined forces in a united kingdom.
In the following centuries, the British conquered vast tracts of land around the world and built the largest empire that ever existed. For a long time, the British Empire ruled over a quarter of the earth's surface. Part of the reason for the success was the technological advantage the British gained through the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Britain fought against Germany in both the First and Second World Wars. After World War II, most parts of the empire were transformed into independent states. In the post-war period, the British began to build the welfare state of Great Britain. The 1950s and 60s were good years, but in the 1970s economic growth stopped. There was a political shift when Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party won the election in 1979. Market forces gained much leeway and taxes were reduced. In the long run, this led to increased productivity and a halt to inflation, but also led to high unemployment and dissatisfaction among many.
The United Kingdom has a parliamentary system of government consisting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The monarch is the head of state, but it is the prime minister who has the executive power. Politics is dominated by the Labor Party (Labor) and the Conservative Party (Tory), but several small parties have seats in parliament. Britain does not have a written constitution.
In 2016, the British voted no to the country continuing to be a member of the EU. The conditions for Britain's divorce from the EU, also known as Brexit, and how the new relationship between the EU and the UK should be, overshadow almost all other political issues.
The country has great influence in international politics, and has a long tradition of cooperation with the United States. Britain has strong ties to its former colonies. Britain also has immigrants from many former colonies, which has helped make the country multicultural and multiethnic. Unemployment is low, and a strong welfare state contributes to the country having one of the world's highest living standards.
The United Kingdom is one of the world's largest economies, and co-founded the organization G7, which brings together the world's richest countries. From the Industrial Revolution to the post-war period, Britain was one of the world's leading industrial nations, but in recent decades the industry has given way to financial companies, insurance companies, investment companies and tourism. The country has an extensive oil industry, but is dependent on importing oil to meet demand.
Machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil / other fuels and medical and technical equipment are the main exports to the United Kingdom. Most trade takes place with other European countries, especially EU members such as Germany and the Netherlands. The United States is also an important trading partner.
It is expected that Britain's withdrawal from the EU will create challenges for the country's economy.
The UN connection offers the school year 2020/21 a game where students will try to resolve a conflict in the Security Council. (Iran and the nuclear issue). The UK is a permanent member of the Security Council, and the sections that follow are information related to this game. More about the UN role play.
The UK has withdrawn from the EU, so ties to other EU countries may not be as strong as before. However, European countries still stand together on important issues related to peace and security, and the United Kingdom is a key member of both the UN and NATO.
Britain has a close relationship with the United States, which is also a NATO member. The countries have extensive military cooperation, and the United Kingdom often participates in international operations in which the United States has a leading role. The British want the United States to recognize to a greater extent the benefits of working through international institutions such as the United Nations, whenever possible.
Britain's relations with Russia have been poor in recent years. This is both due to the Ukraine conflict, and the cases involving attacks on Russian dissidents on British soil where the British believe Russian authorities are involved. Relations with China are not the best either, but can still be described as well-functioning. As Britain often plays on a team with the other Western permanent members of the Security Council (USA and France), the country is often in opposition to China in various polls.
The United Kingdom is one of the countries that negotiated the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015. The country still supports the agreement, but is clearly more receptive to the Americans' version of events in the Iran conflict than France and other EU countries. In the summer of 2019, for example, Britain was more willing to accept alleged evidence from the United States that Iran was behind the attacks on various tankers in the Persian Gulf, and that a US drone was shot down in international and not Iranian waters. If the conflict escalates further militarily, Britain could be the European superpower that contributes most quickly militarily with the Americans.
The United Kingdom does not support the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and has worked with France and Germany to preserve it, despite the fact that Iran since July 2019 has exceeded the provisions of the agreement on several points. In January 2020, the three countries took the decision to trigger the conflict resolution mechanism contained in the nuclear agreement with Iran.
The United Kingdom was nevertheless among the proposers when the IAEA's board in June 2020 adopted a resolution demanding that Iran provide access to the IAEA to inspect two facilities where traces of nuclear material are suspected. The facilities are not part of the 2015 agreement. The resolution was adopted by two votes to one (China and Russia). Iran nevertheless gave the IAEA access to the facilities in August 2020 as a sign of willingness to cooperate.
Britain is more involved in the issue of free shipping through the Strait of Hormuz than the other European powers, as Iran has seized a British ship in response to an arrest of an Iranian ship off Gibraltar. The British stopped the Iranian ship in Gibraltar because they thought it was transporting oil illegally to the Syrian authorities, which are subject to EU sanctions due to the civil war there. When Iran boarded a British ship in the Strait of Hormuz in response, Britain called this action "outright piracy".
While Iran claims to be allowed to stop shipping in the Strait of Hormuz because it protects Iranian territorial waters, and has not signed the Convention on the Law of the Sea to the UN, Britain and many other maritime nations believe that the Strait of Hormuz is considered international waters. There is an old customary law of free movement in this area which Iran cannot abolish without further ado.
Britain is already a member of the Combined Maritime Forces, which patrols parts of the Persian Gulf to prevent criminal activity at sea. The United States has proposed using this force as a starting point to create an escort for merchant ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. Britain was at first skeptical of this proposal because it feared that it would be drawn too heavily into the fierce confrontation with Iran that the United States wanted. However, following the change of government in which Boris Johnson became the new Prime Minister, the country changed its mind and joined the US initiative.
Britain supports the EU's efforts to salvage the nuclear deal through its own trade mechanism to help Iran circumvent the consequences of the harsh US sanctions against the country. This trade mechanism (INSTEX) currently contains schemes that can enable European companies to trade food and medicine with Iran without being affected by US sanctions. The first transaction went through INSTEX in March 2020, but so far few companies have used the scheme. Iran's message to the UK and the EU in the summer of 2019 was that INSTEX was currently completely inadequate, and that trade in oil must be included immediately.
The United Kingdom, together with the EU countries, must consider whether they will meet Iran's demand that oil trade be included in INSTEX. If this happens, Britain and the EU will embark on an even more serious collision course with the United States on the Iran issue.
Britain, like the EU, is critical of Iran's involvement in regional conflicts in the Middle East, and wants restrictions on the country's missile program. The country also supports the sanctions that the EU has imposed on Iran as a result of the cases concerning the authorities' alleged co-responsibility for assassination plans against Iranian dissidents living in Europe.
The nuclear agreement from 2015 entailed a general arms embargo on Iran. Following the agreement, the embargo was lifted in October 2020. In the spring of 2020, the USA opposed this, despite the fact that they had formally withdrawn from the agreement. They believe Iran is a threat to security in the region and wanted the embargo extended. They put forward a proposal on this in the UN Security Council in August 2020, but lost in the vote. The United States says it will now reintroduce UN sanctions from 2006. Britain has agreed with the United States that it is concerned about regional security in the Middle East now that the embargo has been lifted, but does not support the United States alone in the matter. The United States has also not agreed with the rest of the Security Council to reintroduce UN sanctions.
With regard to the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the United Kingdom was one of the co-proponents when it was promoted as part of the agreement to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely in 1995. The country still supports the proposal, but will not insist that it must happen now and against the will of Israel. The United Kingdom can support the initial holding of regional talks to increase confidence between the countries in the region on security and peace issues. The United Kingdom participated when the UN Secretary-General invited to a first conference on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East in November 2019. The United States and Israel were also invited, but did not attend. The conference decided to continue to meet annually.
The United Kingdom is also one of the "old" nuclear weapon states that developed their weapons before the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970. The Swedish research institute SIPRI estimates that the country currently has approx. 215 nuclear warheads in their arsenal.
Britain, like the other great powers, believes that nuclear weapons are important to keep in an uncertain world. The politicians in the country are positive to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons in the long run, but believe that the goal is not possible to achieve immediately. They see no contradiction between advocating nuclear disarmament politically, while at the same time modernizing the nuclear weapons they already have. Britain must be prepared to be criticized for not disarmament more actively, as the Non-Proliferation Treaty actually imposes on nuclear-weapon states.