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Wed, 8 July 2020

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As chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I would ensure all voices are heard

As chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I would ensure all voices are heard
3 min read

We need to look at how we engage with both partners and those who challenge us as we face up to the changing foreign policy challenges of the 2020s, writes Tom Tugendhat MP


This Parliament will define our foreign policy. How we work with our friends and partners around the world, how we engage with those who challenge us, how we shape the rules that will affect us in this changing world. This Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee will matter to all of us. I’m standing to chair the committee to make sure all voices are heard.

Working with all parties in Parliament and communities across our country, the committee I chaired for the past two years began the process of listening to make sure we looked at the questions that matter. We produced more than 40 reports addressing issues like the threat of dirty money, the challenges of our future relations with European partners, and the cost of turning a blind eye to human rights. We were the first to call the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar what it is – ethnic cleansing.

Our work set the agenda at a time when others were distracted, and we exposed those whose actions were against the interest of the British people, whoever they were. There is so much more to do and, if I’m re-elected, the committee will continue to champion all those who have foreign policy expertise in Parliament.

We are at a moment of transition, not just in the UK but around the world. We need to rethink how we act, how we prioritise our time and energy, and how we secure a better future for us all. Today’s challenges range from international action on climate change and human rights, to the shifting of global power. If we are to succeed in any area, we need to reach out to new partners and build new partnerships.

Our engagement with China comes with challenges. Huawei’s dominance of 5G, while it sits as a partner of the security regime that is locking up millions of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, and Britain’s response to Hong Kong while trade with Beijing grows in importance are just two examples. We began work on the way democracies like ours should look at engaging with autocratic states but we need to do more. We need to look at working with partners who face similar challenges if we’re going to defend our values.

We have a chance to deepen ties with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many more in the Commonwealth and around the world by building on the living bridge that unites families and nations. Helping people to keep alive the connections that open us to the world is good for Britain and our friends.

As chair, I gave everyone a voice. We visited communities in Belfast, Fife, Birmingham, Rhondda and Southampton to hear directly from those we represent. We also reported back to Parliament after each significant report. Working together to scrutinise, support, and challenge the government to do better, we can listen to everyone, and champion colleagues who want their voice heard. Foreign policy has never been more important. Please give me your vote to give us all a voice.

Tom Tugendhat is Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling

Read the most recent article written by Tom Tugendhat MP - Reviewing Britain's approach to the world must be about much more than defence

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Foreign affairs