Ash Carter, US Defence Secretary, visited Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government last Wednesday. Carter, who studied at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and obtained a PhD in theoretical physics, spoke about the future of the UK-US ‘special relationship’ and the post-Brexit international order.
He stressed in his speech that “the United States has no stronger ally, no closer ally, than the United Kingdom”, particularly with respect to the issues of “Russia’s aggression and ISIL’s barbarism”.
The Brexit vote, he argued, “doesn’t change the fact that the United Kingdom will continue to have a rich relationship with countries across Europe, economically, politically and militarily. And it does not change at all that the United Kingdom and in particular its military, (…) all it is doing at home and around the world. It doesn’t change that.”
Carter also joked that he was “disappointed” not to be able to visit the Lamb & Flag, having got to know the pub during his studies at St. John’s in the 1970s.
Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, said that the Brexit vote had raised key issues in Secretary Carter’s speech, and that she was delighted he had visited.
Carter is the second high-profile member of the Obama administration to visit Oxford this year, after Secretary of State John Kerry’s address to the Oxford Union in May.