Johnson promises 'overhaul' of post-Brexit foreign policy as he launches review

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The UK is seeking to negotiate a new trade deal with both the US and the EU

The UK is to “overhaul its approach to foreign policy” as part of a government review, Downing Street has announced.

No 10 says insights from internal and external experts will challenge “traditional Whitehall assumptions”.

The diplomatic service, tackling organised crime, the use of technology and the procurement of military supplies will all be looked at.

The review will also seek “innovative ways” to promote UK interests while committing to spending targets.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised that the UK would continue to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international aid. The party also said it would exceed the Nato target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defence.

The new government faces a number of foreign policy challenges including securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently predicted the two sides would “rip each other apart” during negotiations which are due to begin on Monday.

The UK is also hoping to secure a trade deal with the US but relations have been strained by the prime minister’s decision to use Huawei to build the 5G network in the face of US opposition.

The government is also keen to strengthen ties with China, but some of the prime minister’s own MPs – including Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat – have cautioned against allowing Chinese companies’ heavy involvement in projects such as the 5G network and HS2.

‘Constructive challenge’

Setting out details of the Integrated Review – first announced in December’s Queen’s Speech – No 10 said Brexit presented “new opportunities to define and strengthen Britain’s place in the world”.

Its remit, as set out by the government, is to:

  • define the government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world
  • set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation
  • determine the capabilities needed for the next decade and beyond to pursue objectives and address threats
  • identify the necessary reforms to government systems and structures to achieve these goals

The review is expected to conclude later this year with input from Whitehall departments, including the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

The government says it will “utilise expertise from both inside and outside government for the review, ensuring the UK’s best foreign policy minds are feeding into its conclusions and offering constructive challenge to traditional Whitehall assumptions and thinking”.

The UK’s last full-scale security and defence review was completed in late 2015, before the UK voted to leave the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK could not “rest on our laurels” adding: “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.”