Our condolences on the assassination of Shinzo Abe

We are utterly shocked and saddened by the terrible news that Mr Abe has been murdered today.

Prime Minister Abe was a giant on the world stage – with an extraordinary impact both on Japan and the global community.

To his great credit – he was fully engaged in the democratic process, campaigning, as he had done throughout his life, when his life was taken.

In terms of his work on health, he brought together Health and Finance Ministers in 2019 for the first time during the Japan G20 Presidency – pre COVID. That initiative was typically forward looking and has been continued regularly by other presidencies and has been critical in the global response to the COVID pandemic.

Here at Sovereign Strategy, and within the G20 Health and Development Partnership, our thoughts are with Mr Abe’s family and all of the people of Japan at this tragic moment.

A Country Divided – England 2022 Local Elections

A Prime Minister under pressure in a seemingly intractable political crisis. A country divided. Heavy losses for the Conservatives expected. Not 2022, but 2018, when I worked in government as a special adviser and the political weather and expectations of the local elections were, in some senses, similar to today. Yet the Conservatives didn’t do nearly as badly as predicted in that election, and I don’t think they’re going to lose 800 seats in today’s local elections either, despite some warnings. Around half that number of losses for the Conservatives are ‘priced in’, but with vast swathes of England not having council elections today, and some councils only electing some of their number, it will be tricky to get a handle on the quantum of damage to Boris Johnson’s party, and any progress made by Labour in real terms, and what that might mean for a General Election in two years’ time.

What will be fascinating to watch, however, will be what happens in the so-called Blue Wall, the councils in the south west of England where the Liberal Democrats have adopted a similar strategy to the Conservatives in the Red Wall in the north of England, slightly reinventing themselves and ensuring their appeal is broadened to a seemingly neglected group, this time the ‘Waitrose Tories’. The focused ‘ground game’ of the Liberal Democrats and their extremely dedicated activists will ensure their vote is maximised. Continues below

Sovereign Strategy 22

Potholes, bin collections, swimming pools, bus stops and local cycle lanes may not seem to be the sexiest of political issues, but they nonetheless affect people’s daily lives substantially more than what much of Westminster politics and Whitehall civil servants do. In theory, people should vote in local elections about these issues, but the spectre of Boris Johnson’s Partygate, Sir Keir Starmer’s Beergate and the much more important and wide-ranging issue of the cost of living will influence the outcome. It’s almost impossible to know what it going through the mind of anyone in any polling booth, but what is absolutely certain is that turnout will be low, as faith in politics seems to wane on a daily basis at the moment.

For local activists pounding the streets in all weathers recently, their good work may well be in vain as national issues dominate the political discussion. Fear of becoming nationally-influenced party political casualties has even prompted some Tories to print ‘LOCAL Conservatives’ on their leaflets. A complex and confusing picture will emerge in the next 48 hours as results trickle through.

Peter Cardwell, Senior Counsel, Sovereign Strategy

A message from Executive Chairman Alan Donnelly on building long-term relationships

Throughout the 20 years that Sovereign Strategy has been working with clients, we have based our work on a set of fundamental principles. These principles have guided our approach to ensure that we meet the highest professional and ethical standards.

Our principles of transparency, efficacy and partnerships have meant that we have built long term relationships with many of our clients in the private, public and voluntary sectors as well as in our work with governments and multilateral agencies.

As we move towards more stringent adoption of ESG standards we encourage our clients to build into their own work a commitment to tackling climate change, improving public health and support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The world is changing with the emergence of new powerful economies or new regional groupings of countries and with a recognition that institutions that have brought peace and prosperity must also change.

“We welcome the appointment of our new CEO Hatice Beton who will drive the future thinking of our clients in their public policy and business development goals.”

Our work on public policy recognises this and through our high-level network of trusted contacts around the world we are able to help our clients shape their own public policy and business strategy to take account of these changes.

We welcome the appointment of our new CEO Hatice Beton who will drive the future thinking of our clients in their public policy and business development goals.

Sovereign Strategy is proud to have a first-class team spanning across different industries and regions.

Our clients know that they will get honest and professional advice, whether we are assisting with a specific project or helping them to execute a long-term business strategy.

We are members of all of the professional bodies that oversee the conduct of businesses like Sovereign Strategy and our approach respects the codes of conduct of those professional bodies.

Sovereign Strategy looks forward to continuing to grow domestically in the United Kingdom where we have our global headquarters and around the world where we are now providing services to a wide range of sectors including, Technology, Financial Services, Health and Life Sciences.

Alan Donnelly, Executive Chairman



A message from Hatice Küçük our new CEO

Having started as an intern at Sovereign six years ago, it is a particular honour to take over this month as CEO. I look forward to continuing collaborations with our clients and partners, as well as developing new projects regionally, nationally and globally.

The pandemic has taught us once again that we need to revamp and transform the way governments, businesses and the civil society work together. If we want to overcome the emerging challenges from global disruptions stemming from climate change, urbanization, health challenges and technological changes, it is time for us to adapt responsibly and create new partnerships aligned with the United Nations Goal SDG 17 to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and beyond.

“I am excited for this new phase at Sovereign Strategy and most importantly to be able to work with a dynamic and highly-skilled team to meet our targets aligned with our mission and vision.”

As an ethical business, Sovereign Strategy will continue our commitment to new sustainable partnerships, creating long-term bridges to drive new partnerships, stability and growth that is fit for the new age.

I am excited for this new phase at Sovereign Strategy and most importantly to be able to work with a dynamic and highly-skilled team to meet our targets aligned with our mission and vision.

Coming from a family that has migrated from Turkey to Germany in the 1960s, and having been educated and worked in Germany, Brussels, New York, Cambridge and London, I classify myself as a world citizen who understands the challenges of the East and the West, and I am committed to integrate this global approach to our business ethics and our engagement with clients and collaborators.

Hatice Küçük 

Chief Executive Officer



SDG goals poster png

Sovereign Strategy slider 2A

The G7 couldn’t come at a more apposite time for Boris Johnson

The G7 couldn’t come at a more apposite time for Boris Johnson, with foreign affairs currently in sharp focus for the UK government. The future of aid, continuing negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol and the spectre of a NATO summit, the G20 and the COP26 climate conference over the next few months is giving global leaders plenty to chew over alongside the Cornish turbot and new potatoes with wild garlic pesto they’ll dine on tonight.

The G7 is also Boris’s first proper opportunity to promote his Global Britain agenda, too, as the world begins to emerge from Covid. He’ll attempt to use the first G7 in two years to reset the UK’s relations with its largest trading partners and, by extension, the world.

President Biden, already on British soil, has had constructive discussions with Boris Johnson about the US government’s continuing interest in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which it believes is threatened by any chance to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Biden will also meet the Queen at Windsor on Sunday, the 14th President of her long reign and the 13th to meet her — only Lyndon Johnson didn’t.

It’s clear UK-US relations are the priority for Boris, as he continues to seek a trade deal with the USA and a continuation of what he now calls the ‘indestructible relationship’ rather than the special relationship. The new ‘Atlantic Charter’, a UK-US travel and technology agreement, began a series of G7 announcements this week, and that is no accident (and nor are helpful comparisons to Churchill, Boris Johnson’s hero).

In contrast, UK-EU relations remain prickly, and will colour the G7 negotiations which, of course, includes three key EU nations: France, Germany and Italy. Macron’s pronouncement yesterday that the Brexit Prococol shouldn’t be renegotiatied, and that he might veto it, will sour relations. There certainly wasn’t much progress in the talks between Lord (David) Frost, the Cabinet Office Minister who’s in charge of the post-Brexit negotiations for Britain, who spent four hours with EU vice president Maroš Šefčovič on Wednesday morning. Unresolved issues comprise a long list, which includes everything from pet travel to sausages.

As well as the G7 Prime Ministers and Presidents, Australian, Indian, South African and South Korean leaders will attend, with almost two thirds of citizens of democracies worldwide represented at the table, discussing global health, climate change and how to make the world fairer through economic growth. With trade a huge priority for the UK, this ecumenism is no accident either.

Covid will dominate, as will vaccine supply, with Boris Johnson keen to emphasise his administration’s support for the COVAX international scheme and a further acceleration of global vaccine deployment and development. The Conservative concept of ‘building back better’ will be applied to the pandemic, with solutions sought as how to avoid such a pandemic in future, through international cooperation.

Tackling climate change will also be at the heart of discussions, with Cornwall showcased as a place at the forefront of green innovation.

And Boris Johnson’s focus on foreign affairs will continue even as the G7 closes. His next stop is Brussels for the NATO summit, where Afghanistan, Russia and the future of the NATO alliance itself will be debated.

Peter Cardwell, Senior Counsel, Sovereign Strategy

G7: Unpacking the requests of the SME7

In anticipation of the G7 summit taking place in Cornwall this weekend, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across member states have put together a wish list for the G7 leaders. SME7, an organisation composed of representatives of the leading small business and craft organisations from across the G7, met on 20 May and agreed on collective actions that are needed to boost the economic performance for SMEs.

The four requests are neither novel nor controversial but a reiteration of a few basic principles that should stand on the basis of the national and supranational economic strategies of the 99% of the small and medium-sized business community in the context of COVID-19.

The first request of the SME7 is for the G7 to place small businesses at the heart of economic recovery plans. This has been the centrepiece of the NextGenerationEU recovery fund, the motto of the German Presidency of the EU Council in 2020 and the subject matter of numerous conferences and events throughout the past two years. The OECD has recently published an analysis of the range of SME and entrepreneurship policy measures implemented during the course of a year since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and found that governments acted swiftly to put in place ambitious support for SMEs and entrepreneurs, but right now they are facing a dilemma that emergency liquidity support remains essential but is not sustainable and will have negative effects that need to be addressed to support the recovery.

Supporting small businesses on their journeys to reduce carbon emissions is the second ask of the SME7 group. Carbon neutrality has become a global mission across sectors, and legislation on ESG reporting is developing globally. The EU has recently launched the Corporate sustainability reporting proposal, and the US is facing increased pressures to formalise rules in this area. The reporting and compliance costs of small businesses need to be taken into account by legislators, and proportional requirements need to be put forward.

When addressing the digital divide, the third SME7 request, the EU has included special provisions for SMEs in its most recent important initiatives that form the Digital Single Market (Artificial Intelligence, Digital Services Act) as well as the Industrial Strategy. Just a few days ago, the G7 agreed on a landmark digital tax of 15% for big companies. The devil will be in the details and, more precisely, in the definitions, but most importantly, once the tax is in place, it’s important that a slice of what will be a significant sum of money goes to smaller businesses and supports innovation.

Finally, in asking the leaders of the G7 to champion a small business-friendly international trading framework, SME7 is addressing an important issue that has taken a backseat in the wake of the pandemic. In the context of the new EU-UK relationship and newer trade agreements with Japan and the US, smaller businesses are under-represented. The UK Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) has been very vocal about the need for special provisions in trade treaties that protect small businesses. In its own recommendations to the G7, it goes further in its ask and proposes a World Trade Organisation (WTO) committee dedicated to the trading needs of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as outlined in its ‘Trading Forward’ study.

The four requests of SME7 will most likely be embraced by the leaders of the G7. However, with digital giants at the forefront of public scrutiny, most of which have a vested interest in the survival and thriving of small businesses, it would be a significant step forward to establish a framework in which, beyond the antagonistic relationship between governments and multinational players, there is a real possibility for collaboration and for public officials to rely more on the digital tools, market knowledge and resources of large companies to implement specific policies that help small business recovery and sustainable growth.

Ileana Grigorescu

G7 Leaders’ Summit and Global Health

Ahead of the G7 Leaders’ Summit this weekend, global health has never been a more critical issue on the agenda. COVID-19 has exposed that the world was severely unprepared to respond to health emergencies, despite decades-long opportunities to prepare following previous disease outbreaks, such as H1N1 and Ebola. G7 commitments to emergency response and global health security now underpins its key policy priorities to lead global recovery from the coronavirus, alongside strengthening and building back better health systems. Global health is rightly at the top of the agenda and should remain so in a post-pandemic world.

The Communiqué released following the G7 Health Ministers’ meeting offered some encouraging signals on tackling key issues, such as the silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR); global health security; and clinical trials, as well as how we can use digital technology as a means of tackling these challenges. Whilst the ambitious targets of the UK Presidency are welcome, it is key that other disease areas such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are not neglected. Moreover, considering the severe disruption to health service delivery and eradication gains due to COVID-19, the path towards UHC by 2030 and concurrent management of health threats must be a staple of recovery planning.

Aligning with the Communiqué and Boris Johnson’s 5-point plan to ‘protect humanity against another pandemic’ was the launch of a Global Pandemic Radar, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Wellcome Trust. The Radar will bridge international partnerships to identify emerging COVID-19 variants and track new diseases around the world. Britain will also leverage its Presidency to push world leaders to establish a set of shared principles for clinical trials, to combat disjointed collaboration and output of research during the pandemic.

These concerted efforts to improve global surveillance and reinforce data sharing highlight their importance in monitoring and responding to health emergencies, while informing the development of and equitable access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. To transform the fragmented testing landscape and elevate diagnostics from the weakest link in the care cascade, requires a comprehensive, fully-funded strategy and global collaboration, as set out in a call to action by FIND.

As we have witnessed, early and systematic testing is the lynchpin for pandemic preparedness and achieving global health security globally. World leaders must uphold global surveillance efforts to better ensure early detection and alert mechanisms, supporting governments to act decidedly when faced with the next health emergency.

In commitments made in the recent Rome Declaration, G20 leaders prioritised a One Health approach to build back better, calling for increased investment and cooperation to address the impending threat of AMR. Declared a top global health threat by the WHO, AMR is predicted to claim 10 million lives and cost $100 trillion annually as a result of inadequate interventions and urgent action is critical. This prioritisation of research and development for AMR is a welcomed addition on agenda, yet further details on how this will be achieved remain elusive. Leaders must therefore implement previous commitments to invest in research, information-sharing, and manufacturing towards developing antibiotics that can sufficiently address the most drug-resistant bacteria.

The lead-up to the Summit has also seen global leaders urge the G7 to help vaccinate the world by the end of 2022. Johnson has called for ‘stepping up the manufacture of vaccines, lowering barriers’ and ‘ultimately sharing surplus doses with developing countries bilaterally and through COVAX.’

COVID-19 has provided an overdue wake-up call on the need for global solidarity and investment to strengthen global health security. The G7 have it in their power to ensure these bold targets are met and their statements don’t again turn into solemn declarations – as we have seen too often before. We must not let this turning point pass us by.

Victoria Grandsoult and Jack Nagy