Today, the UK Government released its findings from the Integrated Review, the most comprehensive review of the UK’s defence, security, development, and foreign policy since the Cold War. The conclusions from the review will create a framework for government policy in the coming decade, enabling the UK to forge new partnerships and shape a more open international order. Significantly, I firmly believe that the review sets out a vision for a strong, secure, and prosperous UK and I welcome the vision that the Prime Minister has set out.
Firstly, the review defines what the idea of 'Global Britain' really means, concluding that:
- The UK should use its newfound sovereignty to forge new friendships and strengthen existing ones. The UK's departure from the EU provides a unique opportunity to reconsider many aspects of our domestic and foreign policy; the UK Government will now look further afield, such as to the Indo-Pacific, to forge new friendships whilst cementing those in place. As an example, the UK's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) shows this new ethos in action, whilst the Prime Minister will be visiting India later this month to further enhance the deep connection between our two nations.
- The UK must take advantage of this year’s presidency of the G7 to forge new partnerships and initiatives. These partnerships will make the world a more secure place, will foster ideas for a new world treaty on pandemic preparedness and to continue to play a leading international role in collective security, multilateral governance, global health, conflict resolution and poverty reduction.
- Through the hosting of COP 26, the UK should continue its world leadership on addressing climate change by encouraging global action to build back greener. Here, we should build upon our trail-blazing credentials as the first major economy to commit to achieving net zero by 2050.
The Review also made conclusions on our national defence, finding that:
- We must continue to defend our people, territory, critical national infrastructure, our precious democratic institutions and public services, and our way of life. Through the continued strengthening of the UK's homeland security, the Government should build on the already firm foundations in counterterrorism, intelligence, cyber security.
- The Government should increase investment into the Armed Forces. Going forward, the investment will total £16.5 billion over four years, which will make sure our nation’s defence is ready and able to adapt and defend against the ever-changing range of threats our country faces. As I stated in my own contribution to the debate on the Integrated Review, it is vitally important that the UK is able to adapt to new and emerging threats rapidly and this investment will allow that.
- The UK should remove the cap on the nuclear deterrent.
- We must continue to work with our allies, such as the United States, other NATO partners and our European allies to make the world a safer place.
- We must not hesitate to respond to the growing threat posed by state actors in the Indo-Pacific. China’s increasing international assertiveness and the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific demands we take a new approach shifting our focus on this region of the world.
Throughout all of this, the UK Government will also harness the strength of our nation and the Union by:
- Driving defence investment back into our communities, whilst ensuring that the UK is at the cutting-edge of innovation. The Government’s investment in defence, for example, will create 40,000 British jobs over the next four years in all four nations of the United Kingdom. Many of these new jobs have already been announced, such as those linked with the next-generation Boxer Armoured Vehicles, here in Wales.
- Ensuring our international policy thinking is driven by the whole UK by creating jobs outside of London, which will harness the knowledge and expertise of a range of individuals.
- Promoting the UK-wide expertise in areas such science, technology, and defence. As the Prime Minister made clear in his article in The Times, this has already started with the global promotion of the UK's vaccine development and manufacture following the success of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured across the globe and will soon be distributed worldwide through the Covax scheme.
The review is most definitely a bold, assertive and positive view of the UK's position in the world. It is right that it looks outward, towards the opportunities the UK now has to play a global role and the potential for increased multilateral thinking and actions. However, it is also right that it takes a realistic tone on aspects of international affairs such as the increased assertiveness of certain state actors and the growing importance of new economic spheres.
I am particularly pleased with the Unionism that is woven at the heart of it. Wales is an outward looking nation and I know that many in Wrexham will welcome the contents of the review and the implications of it. Take the defence investment for one; this investment will create prosperity across the whole of the United Kingdom and I am sure that Wrexham and North Wales will be a beneficiary of this. Indeed, I also know that the 'Global Britain' agenda brings real opportunities for improvements at home, through economic investment and business development, which many constituents in Wrexham will be pleased to see.
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