Mon, 15 August 2022

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Foreign Affairs Committee chief says Boris Johnson should have more power over Brexit

Foreign Affairs Committee chief says Boris Johnson should have more power over Brexit

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Boris Johnson should have a greater say over Brexit as part of a major Whitehall shakeup, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee is set to declare.

Tom Tugendhat will argue that the Foreign Office should take on responsibility for “strategic control” of leaving the EU as well as intelligence, defence, foreign aid and international trade.

The top Conservative MP - who has clashed with Mr Johnson in the past - will brand his proposals to give the Foreign Secretary more power a “revolution at the heart of government”.

His bold suggestion is likely to raise the hackles of fellow Secretaries of State - although sources close to Mr Tugendhat insisted the plan would not diminish the power of other departments.

In a speech tomorrow at the Royal United Services Institute, the Tonbridge and Malling MP will say: “Successive foreign secretaries - including the current one - have been hobbled. They’ve had the title, but they haven’t had the power.”

Mr Tugendhat will argue that the Foreign Office “has lost control of key aspects of overseas influence” and is locked “in a tug-of-war with the Cabinet Office” over national security and EU issues.

He will add: “This has created silos in our foreign policy reducing our ability to balance across areas of influence.”

“The success or failure of our foreign policy is now more important to the future health and prosperity of our nation than it has been at any time since the end of the Second World War.

“We need make the Foreign Office the strategic engine of our foreign policy again”.

PoliticsHome understands Mr Tugendhat is not calling for a break-up of other departments but a rather a new system of joined-up working.

“The very nature of the departments means that their work is overlapping to an extent and it’s just bringing that all together” a source explained.

“The Foreign Secretary obviously has a very important role and it’s about giving him whatever tools possible as we renegotiate our relationship with the world as a result of Brexit.”

Mr Tugendhat - who has been tipped as a possible future challenger to Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership - has issued veiled swipes at the Cabinet minister in the past.

Last year he made a dig at his use of humour and said the UK needed a “very cool-headed, stern and strategic look” at its approach to the world.

The ex-army officer also said it would be “fantastic” to head up the Foreign Office himself.

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