A report measuring economic, diplomatic and cultural clout has named the United Kingdom as the worlds top soft power.

The UK was followed by France, Germany, the United States and Japan. Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands and Australia rounded out the top 10.

The UK’s first-place finish was a “surprise” given how the negotiations for Brexit has had “little tangible progress”, the report wrote. As such, there are “huge question marks” over the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, its long-term global influence and its role in the world.

“Moreover, should the exit be a chaotic one, it is hard to see global public opinion on the UK remaining buoyant,” it added.

“The UK edges out France – only just – to take the top spot in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. The UK’s return to first place will no doubt come as a surprise to many analysts, commentators, and diplomats.

The past year has seen Brexit negotiations dominate headlines and consume virtually all of the government’s bandwidth with
little tangible progress made. As a result, there are huge question marks over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, its long-term global influence, and its role in the world. However, as of July 2018, the UK remains a member of the European Union, and thus nothing has changed in the objective data with respect to the
UK’s position in Europe.

For the UK, this year’s results are an encouraging sign that the nation still commands significant soft power clout. The UK’s soft power strengths continue to sit across the Engagement, Culture,
Education, and Digital sub-indices.”

Regarding the UK position, the report concludes:

“Where the UK goes from here is anyone’s guess. It is not clear if HM Government has a compelling vision for what Britain
will look like in five years’ time. Much remains to be done if the calls for “Global Britain” are to amount to anything more than a slogan.

Intent must be matched with sufficient funding and resources, lest it become an empty branding exercise.

The UK can only rely on the success of the GREAT campaign for so long. As we approach March 2019, all of the as-yet-tobe-
answered questions on the UK’s future relationship with Europe and its role in the world will have to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, the US slipped one spot to be ranked fourth, due to “detrimental effects” of the Trump administration’s protectionist and nationalist approach to foreign policy, the report said.

“Last year, a very sharp decline in global perceptions of the US was reported in the polling data whereas this year objective metrics have also registered the erosion of American soft power,” the media release wrote, citing an “obvious fall” in the government category from twelfth to the sixteenth position.

The ‘Soft Power 30’ index, first launched in 2015, measures a country’s soft power via objective data on six categories, such as government and culture, and international polling on seven other indicators.

It was produced by communications consultancy Portland in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. A copy of the report can be found here.



  1. I am curious how this works, considering the UK was incapable of influencing anyone, whether it is trying to influence the US to not put sanctions back on Iran, EU to reform pre-brexit vote and well the mess that is currently happening around Brexit.

    Maybe that is the point, soft power means big blows but zero impact.

    • The UK brokers many deals like Mandela freedom . The queen brokers many deals in private .The last deal the UK brokered was last month the Arab jew summit .Also sorted the sanctions on mad man Putin . The first leader Trump met when elected was the PM ..We’ve been involved in ever full top Table security councils summits .The world international language is English .2 out of the world’s top 5 universities are british … British divers just rescued Thai kids ..Uk construction companys deliver 90% clean water to The 3rd world .The BBC is the biggest world wide service on the planet …The UK and queen are head of the biggest community on the planet the commonwealth ..Uk 5 th biggest economy on the planet ..Uk 2018 the 3,rd biggest defence spend in the world only behind USA and China ..

  2. It was good seeing the RAF fly-byes yesterday I doubt any other European air force could even fly 100 aircraft let alone use them for a commemoration ceremony. It will be sad to see the Tornado’s go though I know technology has improved in terms of stand off, multirole and UAV capabilities but 150 combat aircraft does feel a bit light. Hopefully we get 150 f35 before 2035 when the typhoons are phased out.

    • it was pretty impressive to watch them fly past our offices and most of the 100 were modern kit, even if a lot where trainers. The c17 was impressive in its size compared to everything else.

    • Yes

      From the report

      “The Global Engagement sub-index includes metrics such as the number of embassies/high commissions
      a country has abroad, membership of multilateral organisations, and overseas development aid.”

  3. Brexit has little to do with this.

    Our influence, diplomatic and cultural links are across the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere,
    not our closest neighbours.

    Just how much “influence” did the UK have when we were in the EU? Just how many UK objections were upheld?

    The EU was warned that many would vote leave if they did not compromise, so here we are.

    • We actually had quite a lot of influence in the EU. Many policies were UK led and the smaller countries in the EU relied in the UK to stand up to France and Germany. The UK was the regulator in a crazy committee.

  4. When your in trench fighting for your their is no comfort in knowing the UK is the world’s greatest soft power.

    • World’s third largest economy. Home of the US 7th Fleet in addition to while both relatively pacifist one of the worlds better equipped Militaries. Especially it’s Navy which is heavily based on interoperability with the USN. Not to mention the fact that Japan has significant trade with the United States totaling in value more than most EU countries entire economies. Also Japan not having Nuclear weapons is political not technological. They are in point of fact a leader in the field of Nuclear technology so could in theory build the weapons capability at will. They are not some hermit kingdom like North Korea.

  5. China has its own power-ranking system, in which the UK also ranks fairly high. They don’t distinguish between hard and soft power. Don’t know what they call their system. Too lazy to find out. :-]

  6. American clicks its fingers and restores sanctions against Iran and there is nothing china or Europe can do due to US dollar hegemony.

    How can we or anyone else compete against that.

    Don’t get me wrong the UK has soft power primarily because of the vast sums of money we give people but it is not on that level.

    We certainly took the Russians on though and won.

    • The “vast” sums of money we give people are a small factor in determing soft power, it’s a sub category.

      The US imposing economic sanctions is hard power not soft power.

    • The US using economic sanctions is hard power not soft power.

      And the “vast” sums of money we give people, I take it you’re talking about overseas development aid, is a sub category of how soft power is measured, it’s nowhere near the primary reason.

  7. I think the point being missed here is that “soft” power is not about military power or membership of the UN security council.. The “my-balls-are-bigger-than-your-balls” arguments that seem to prevail on this post belomg in the school playground to be frank.. The pre-eminence of the English language worldwide and the huge appetite for british cultural content, be it broadcast media or music or sport or financial services etc quite frankly dwarfs any influence we may have for having or not having 13 frigates or 225 Challeger tanks etc etc. Thats why its called soft power after all…


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