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Tue, 31 March 2020

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Defence set for spending boost as Boris Johnson launches biggest foreign policy review since Cold War

Defence set for spending boost as Boris Johnson launches biggest foreign policy review since Cold War
2 min read

Boris Johnson has unveiled the biggest review of the UK’s defence, security and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.


The Prime Minister said Britain “cannot rest on our laurels” as he kicked off a new ‘Integrated Review’ that ministers say will take a wide-ranging look at “all aspects of the UK’s place in the world”.

The Government is promising the review - which will report directly to Mr Johnson - will spell out a vision for the UK’s “role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy” after Brexit.

Whitehall has previously been subject to two ‘Strategic Defence and Security Reviews’, which have been more narrowly focused on defence policy and whether or not the Ministry of Defence has the tools for the job.

But, while Number 10 said the new exercise would “determine the capabilities we need for the next decade”, it will also draw on the work of a much wider range of government departments, including the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for International Development, the Home Office, Treasury, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Launching the review, Mr Johnson said he was “determined to lead a Government that delivers for our people - both at home and abroad”.

And he added: “The UK’s institutions, expertise, leadership and values are renowned around the world.

“But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more to adapt. We will be judged by how we respond to the opportunities ahead.

“As the world changes we must move with it – harnessing new technologies and ways of thinking to ensure British foreign policy is rooted firmly in our national interests, now and in the decades ahead.”

The Conservative manifesto commits the Government to spending 2% of Britain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence and 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development.

Number 10 made clear that these two goals would be maintained, but said the review would “seek new and innovative ways to promote our interests overseas while continuing to commit” to them.

It also confirmed that defence procurement - seen as a major target for reform by the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser adviser Dominic Cummings - would be looked at by the review.

The Times reports that the review will not be “cost-neutral”, with the Ministry of Defence in line for a spending boost as part of the plans. 

But the paper cites a Downing Street source who says external experts will be brought in to challenge “traditional Whitehall assumptions and thinking”.   

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