Britain is in danger of losing its status as a leading global nation as countries in Asia and Latin America continue their rapid economic growth, according to a government minister.
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said that without "major restructuring", the UK faces "inevitable decline," and could be overtaken in the world pecking-order by countries such as Mexico, South Korea and Brazil within a decade.
He told The Sunday Times: "We don't have a God-given right to be one of the richest and most influential countries in the world - that is earned. If we don't adapt, then we will decline.
"There is no eternal rule that says Britain will be a paramount global force in global politics indefinitely."
The Liberal Democrat MP said "at a time of huge change in the power structure of the world" the UK was facing "a massive task to remain competitive economically" and keep its position as a global political leader.
Britain is estimated to be the world's sixth-largest economy behind America, China, Japan, Germany, and France.
But as our economy stutters in the wake of the recession, gross domestic product in Asian and Latin American countries is growing.
The politician added: "The Chinese economy doubles in size roughly every seven to eight years, then doubles again in 15 years. There are a lot of countries that are less spectacular, that are G20 countries from the next tier down - like Mexico, South Korea and Indonesia - that are still experiencing what is by European standards extremely strong growth and becoming much more important countries in the world."
Mr Browne said in order to retain its status, the UK needs to build wider political alliances, improve its infrastructure, ensure it remains educationally competitive and make a greater effort to learn about the history and culture of rapidly developing countries.
"Out of all the countries in Europe, we have some major restructuring that is required to make this country globally competitive in the next generation," the MP for Taunton Deane added.