22 Oct 20. Defence Committee publishes Government Response to Integrated Review Report. ‘The first duty of the Government is security of the nation. Now is not the time to blink.’
The Defence Committee is today publishing the Government’s Response to its report “In Search of Strategy – The 2020 Integrated Review”.
The Report underscored the need for strong political leadership and strategic analysis to inform the UK’s future defence posture and urges the Government to include a thorough assessment of the economic, diplomatic and military activities and the internal political dynamics of hostile foreign states, such as Russia and China.
Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said: “The Government’s formal Response to our Integrated Review inquiry clearly outlines that a Comprehensive Spending Review would provide a multiyear financial settlement for Defence, enabling the delivery of the policy priorities set out in the Integrated Review.
“However, in just the last few days, the Treasury has signalled its intentions to scrap this plan. I strongly urge the Chancellor to reconsider as this would lead to delays in key financial decisions, costing the Ministry of Defence billions of pounds. And more widely it would send a poor signal about the Government’s commitment to re-establishing a coherent vision of our place in the world at a time of great uncertainty and instability.
“The Integrated Review was promoted with great fanfare as the opportunity for the nation to reassess current and emerging threats and serve as a commitment to shape the world beyond our borders with a subsequent upgrade to our defence posture. We cannot afford to let this opportunity go to waste at a time when the West is at its most divided in decades and our adversaries stand primed and ready to take advantage of any weakness they see.
“I urge to Prime Minister to complete review process in full – even if this means confirming the multiyear financial settlement for Defence in isolation from other Government departments.
The first duty of the Government is security of the nation. Now is not the time to blink.”
21 Oct 20. Report: A brave new Britain? The future of the UK’s international policy.
Britain has a vital role to play on an increasingly competitive world stage.
The Foreign Affairs Committee today publishes its Report ‘A brave new Britain? The future of the UK’s international policy’.
Today’s Report follows the Committee’s inquiry into the Government’s Integrated Review. The Report highlights that the Review is a necessary response to a world characterised by ever-strengthening interconnection and rapid technological change.
However, it is also one of worsening competition between countries. International rivalry, a lack of consensus-building leadership, and a division of the world into competing visions and systems, could make global challenges more abundant, more severe, and more difficult to resolve.
Meanwhile, the UK’s own international policy has been adrift and has lacked clarity, coherence and confidence. Expert witnesses from around the world encouraged the UK to play a more an impactful role on the world stage. Yet, as the Report states, the UK will only achieve its greatest impact abroad if it uses its range of assets and capabilities coherently.
Step up and do more
Throughout the inquiry, globally renowned experts – including those with experience as heads of state, and the most senior diplomats from around the world – were clear that the UK has appeared less ambitious and more absent in its global role in recent years. Yet none of the contributors wanted the UK to stand back or keep quiet. All of them urged the country to step up, do more, and play a more impactful role in the world. They highlighted the positive contribution that the UK could make to international relations, and the negative implications if it declined.
The Report highlights that the UK has a strong capacity to use its memberships and influence to bring countries together in dialogue. Contributors also admired the UK as a pragmatic country whose thought leadership, and the legal drafting capabilities of the FCDO’s lawyers, can bring the world together through agreed, stable and predictable frameworks. The UK’s own adherence to such frameworks is of paramount importance to its international reputation.
Coherence is key
The Report states that the UK will have the greatest impact abroad if it uses its range of assets and capabilities coherently. It is unlikely that the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will resolve the persistent problem that ‘Britain abroad is less than the sum of its parts’.
The Integrated Review must address a lack of clear strategic vision, a lack of confidence, and lack of coherent implementation that has undermined recent international policy by the UK. The Review should visibly respond to the consultation that it has undertaken and the challenge that a robust review requires. It should publish its evidence base transparently, showing that future policy has a broad and strong foundation.
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:
“This report was written in the expectation that the government would publish its Integrated Review in coming days. Today’s announcement that the government will not proceed with a multi-year spending review, reduces the Integrated Review to an annual spending round rather than a long-term vision of UK foreign and defence policy.
“In the face of adversity, it is vital we have a clear and consistent strategy to overcome the challenges we face. Without a plan and corresponding budgets to support it the UK cannot coherently respond to such challenges or remain confident in its delivery of Global Britain. It leaves the UK feeling its way in the dark and adds to uncertainty at a time of great global instability.
“Though Covid-19 has changed plans across the world, and for some, shortened horizons, the need for a strategic outlook has never been more important. Britain has left the European Union and needs to plot a course that shapes our future. That’s not something we can do without clear thinking and an understanding of the world around us.
“Many key global voices feel that this country has a huge part to play as the world changes in coming years. The UK must now move forward in a confident, clear and coherent way, driving events, not simply be pushed around by an increasingly unstable world.
“The key role for the UK was made clear – build networks of nations who will work together to address challenges and create opportunities. The UK has a unique capability to support coalitions and convene nimble networks. These coalitions would be open, issue-based, fleet-footed, overlapping, and even temporary: a ‘vari-lateral’ system.
“As part of the realisation that the world has changed, the Government should establish diplomatic missions to the world’s leading technology companies, recognising that the cyber world is now as real as the physical. Setting regulations, which is another area Britain has traditionally supported, is now essential in the lawless arena of emerging technologies, cyber and space. If we are to mitigate threats, we need to agree standards and promote cooperation and opportunities for exchange, and innovation.
“None of this can be done without coherence and ambition. The FCDO brings together the UK’s demonstrable strengths to ensure our place on the world stage is not lost but will have to go further.
“Though the pressures of financial uncertainty are now greater than ever, we cannot waste this moment, or we risk leaving the safety of the old order without having any sense of what we’re trying to achieve. This is no time to wander in no-man’s land without a map. The government’s intended Integrated Review should be the moment we bring together the full range of proven assets to cement the UK’s role as a powerful diplomatic presence, essential partner, and trusted ally, enhancing our international reputation in the years to come.”
The Report recommends that the Government:
1) Does ‘tilt to the Indo-Pacific’, building off a strong partnership with Europe
2) Deepens strategic coordination between the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the FCDO
3) Deploys its mediation, conflict resolution, and atrocity prevention capabilities
4) Publishes a coherent, resourced ‘soft power’ strategy bringing together the UK’s tools of influence, from law and education to training missions and trade
5) Convenes and catalyses negotiations to reform multilateral organisations
6) Acts with nimble coalitions of like-minded nations to counter threats and realise opportunities
7) Delivers on its commitment to prioritise the existential issues of climate change and global health security
8) Works with the world to agree regulations for frontier spheres such as cyberspace and outer space.
19 Oct 20. Defence Committee to question Minister for Defence procurement on progress delivering Armoured Vehicle capability.
On Tuesday 20 October, at 10.30, the Defence Committee held the next evidence session in its inquiry into Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs).
This session saw the Committee question the Minister for Defence Procurement and officials, as it aims to scrutinise the Department’s plans and programmes in this area.
Planned topics for discussion include the current UK AFV capability and future plans, progress with AFV programmes and lessons learned from the last two decades of AFV procurement.
Other areas due to be explored include the retention of heavy armour capabilities within the British Army and industry and a Land Industrial Strategy.
Tuesday 20 October, 10.30:
- Mr Jeremy Quinn MP, Minister of State (Minister for Defence Procurement)
- Air Marshal Richard Knighton CB, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Military Capability), Ministry of Defence
- Lieutenant General Christopher Tickell CBE, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, British Army
- Mr Chris Bushell, Director General Land, Defence Equipment and Support
Watch the session on Parliament TV