Without a developed strategy for Global Britain his presence would be wastedby Georgina Wright / February 15, 2020 / Leave a comment
This weekend, some of the world’s leading political and business figures travel to Germany to attend the Munich security council—an annual conference that discusses the world’s most pressing security challenges. The guest list is always impressive. This year it includes French President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This is where Theresa May delivered her speech on UK-EU security cooperation in 2018. The then defence secretary Gavin Williamson attended in 2019.
But this year, there will be no British prime minister and no UK secretaries of state. That is sensible. Leaders will want to discuss what the UK’s global role is and where it goes next. Without a clear strategy for Global Britain, there is little reason for the prime minister to attend.
Boris Johnson coined the term Global Britain when foreign secretary in 2017. But almost three years down the line, there is still confusion about what this means. That has been compounded by the lack of debate on the future of the UK’s foreign policy since the referendum.
In the Queen’s Speech in December, the government spoke of an integrated security and defence review. This review will clarify how the government sees the future of the UK’s defence, security, development and foreign policy, what resources it has available and the spending needed to carry out its global ambition.
James Cleverly, newly appointed junior minister at the Foreign Office, will at least be attending this weekend, as will senior officials from the FCO and Ministry of Defence. Some of the best brainstorming happens in the margins. They can gauge what appetite there is for Britain to do things differently, including forming new partnerships. This will be important as the government prepares its review, whose publication, and subsequent debates in parliament, will help with scrutiny and debate over the UK’s aims.
The UK has the standing to take a strategic pause. It is regarded as an important player and, for now, Brexit has done nothing to reduce its reputation in this respect. It is a powerful convener. For example, it hosted the Nato leaders’ summit in December and is chairing the COP26 climate summit this year. It has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council…