Dear Members and Friends,

An interesting week in Grafton Street with some stimulating and provocative views expressed. As we operate all meetings under the Chatham House Rule, I cannot share the sources, but the lunch with Kevin Courtney (the Joint General Secretary of the newly-formed National Education Union) explored some interesting issues. Discussions included views on whether the perception of a world class education system is in fact masking a very broken system where government pressure on processes and procedures is hindering our children’s progress in the classroom. It will be interesting to see how the debate develops and where Kevin is able to take the NEU.

The latest Brexit Breakfast session, joined by Baroness Liddell, concluded that Government is distracted, and it is not ‘business as usual’! It was generally acknowledged that divisions across Westminster are stalling negotiations across trade, migration and the Irish border issues in particular. Negotiations will be tough and lengthy, and a second Referendum was quickly ruled out.

BEI hosted Andrew Long, DFID’s Head of Profession for Social Development and Denise Stuckenbruck, Principal Consultant at Oxford Policy Management who shared insights on DFID’s work on child protection. A very interactive discussion ensued, which raised much debate on social policy and the need to work across government departments to ensure sufficient engagement and resourcing is given to this area, with particular reference to its wider impact on poverty reduction and the achievement of SDGs.

Future calendar highlights include a fully booked event with Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England. The session is badged as “The future of roads – 2020-2025”. Anybody that has recently travelled north on the M6 will, I am sure, be delighted to hear more about Jim’s long-term plans for making England’s motorways and major trunk roads world-class by investing over £15bn. I’m sure the term ‘smart roads’ will form a key part of the discussion.

BEI has meetings focussing on Chile and its newly announced $9bn infrastructure fund and early stage opportunities for the 2023 PanAmerican Games in Santiago and also a CATBIG session on Kyrgyzstan with the British Ambassador HE Robin Ord-Smith MVO, who will be joined by HMA’s Trade and Investment Officer, Sezim Beksultanova, and the Executive Director of Kyrgyzstan’s International Business Council, Askar Sydykov.

At the end of the week The D Group will host the first of its regional meetings in Newcastle. The session kicks off with lunch at The Mansion House, Jesmond, with Nick Forbes, Leader of the Newcastle City Council setting the scene for business in the North East.

Sunday will, of course, see the England team on the pitch in Russia for the second time during this 2018 World Cup. May the best 11 win!
With Best Wishes,


Tracey Smith - Deputy Chair, Strategy International

Event highlights:

Tuesday 26th June – CATBIG Meeting (15:00)
Kyrgyzstan – an Update
H.E. Robin Ord-Smith MVO,The British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan

Tuesday 3rd July – BEI Meeting (10:00)
UK/ EU Development Relationship Post-Brexit – Update
Malcom Geere, Deputy Head Europe Department, DFID

Wednesday 4th July – BEI Meeting (10:00)
Evidence-Based Policy Integration in Development Aid Work
Rachel Glennerster, Chief Economist, DFID