Gabriel Elefteriu

How Brexit has boosted Global Britain

The HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Loch Long (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The government’s integrated review of foreign and security policy, published yesterday, has landed surprisingly well considering that much of the Whitehall blob has been so dismissive of Boris Johnson’s concept of Global Britain. A few longstanding critics have been snippy about the new document. But no one can disagree that the review offers a genuine strategy.

In recent years, one of the most persistent ideas about the UK’s future on the world stage has been that we cannot make a go of things post-Brexit. Such ideas, so the counter-argument goes, are based on the deluded nostalgia of a ‘buccaneering’ nation, foolishly going it alone on trade and much else besides.

But the Global Britain strategy which emerges from the integrated review offers a different, more cautious and calculating approach. Instead of a swashbuckling spirit, one finds — unusually for a government document of this type — finely-tuned strategic prescriptions and a laudably clear-eyed analysis of the strategic landscape. This version of Global Britain proposes a sort of conservative internationalism, seeking to combine the realism and prudence of the former with the values of the latter — and to reconcile them with the enormous technological and geopolitical challenges of our times.

One of the most remarkable decisions has been to bring the space domain to the fore

The scale of the difficulties facing us — and the West as a whole — is hard to overstate. In the roughly five years since the last UK strategic review, Chinese growth has warped the global balance of power. Episodes like Huawei, Hong Kong or the bullying of Australia have given us a sense of what a Chinese-oriented world order would look like. In security affairs, we are witnessing the proliferation of advanced capabilities like drones, cyber and high precision missiles (now too in the hands of non-state actors) meaning more and better-equipped enemies, and an increasingly complex operating environment.

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