UK diplomats plant a flag in San Francisco

United Kingdom Consul General in San Francisco Tammy Sandhu (center left) and U.K. Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch (center right) attend the APEC summit in San Francisco, along with a delegation of diplomats. | Janette Ebbers/U.K. consulate By Dustin Gardiner 12/22/2023 10:11 AM EST SAN FRANCISCO — A different sort of influencer has been popping up in California’s policymaking arenas: the British diplomat — and they aren’t just here to share tea and crumpets. The United Kingdom has more than doubled the number of diplomats posted in San Francisco since 2018 and now has 40 in its Northern California consulate — including policy and trade specialists who offer expertise to lawmakers and agency employees writing state policies. It’s comparable to the footprint of an embassy in a medium-sized country. California and the U.K. have always had a close relationship; the country is one of the state’s largest sources of foreign direct investment, rivaled only by Japan. Britain’s attention to California reflects the state’s growing influence in the global economy and partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., that has made the Golden State a de facto regulator for major industries. “If you influence the state of California, that has significant heft at the federal level, too,” British Consul General Tammy Sandhu told Playbook during an interview on a fall evening at her office in a high rise off San Francisco’s Market Street. “What we recognize is that you can actually achieve a lot — sometimes more — at the state level.” Moments later, Sandhu walked briskly down the hall to host a reception for Matt Clifford , a top artificial intelligence adviser to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The event drew local tech executives and elected officials, including San Francisco Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Ahsha Safaí and advisers to state Sen. Scott Wiener. […]

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