Macron fires France to top of ‘soft power’ league table as UK takes Brexit hit
The United States falls from first to third following the election of Donald Trump last year.
The election of Emmanuel Macron as president has helped propel France to the top of a league table of global “soft power”, while Britain’s score has decreased partly as a result of Brexit.
But despite losing points for government stability, enterprise and favourability measured in worldwide polls, the UK hung on to second slot, thanks to the US tumbling from first to third following the election of Donald Trump.
The author of the report, by communications firm Portland in partnership with the University of Southern California, said that Britain’s influence in the world had taken a hit, particularly among EU member states.
The future of the UK’s “soft power” will depend on whether Brexit results in the creation of a “global Britain”, as the Government hopes, or puts the country on a protectionist and nationalist path, said Portland’s Jonathan McClory.
Britain’s performance was boosted by internationally recognised brands such as the Premier League, world-leading creative and financial industries and assets such as the British Council and BBC World Service, said the report.
Mr Macron’s promise of increased global engagement and leadership from Paris fuelled France’s move from fifth to first place, on the back of long-standing strengths in diplomacy, culture and tourism.
But the US declined sharply, falling almost 10 points in international polling.
Germany and Canada were each down one place to fourth and fifth respectively in the ranking, which measures countries’ ability to attract, influence and persuade people from around the world.
Japan rose one place to sixth, one of a number of Asian states – including China – which increased their soft power this year.
“Looking at the objective metrics in this year’s Soft Power 30, not much has changed for the UK,” said Mr McClory.
“However, the international polling shows that British soft power has taken a hit, particularly in EU member countries.
“The next two years will be critical for the future of Britain’s global influence.
“As the UK prepares to exit the European Union, British soft power will hinge on whether HM Government can deliver on the concept of ‘Global Britain’ and ensure the UK is a champion of openness, tolerance and international collaboration.
“If so, then British soft power – and global influence – can be safeguarded.
“If the UK takes a protectionist and nationalist turn, however, it is likely that there will continue to be downward movement in the UK’s performance in the Soft Power 30 in the future.”