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Government’s Integrated Review is not strategic, not integrated and not a proper review.

March 18, 2021 3:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

This week the Conservative Government published their Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The Government's priorities set out in this Review are full of hubris and broken promises.

The Prime Minister has said the Government is "standing up for our values". Yet, the Review shows the Government reneging on commitments to help the world's poorest while increasing spending on nuclear warheads, putting economic ties before human rights, drastically cutting our armed forces to fill Defence Budget black holes, failing to take decisive action on China and Russia and ignoring the need to rebuild cooperation with the EU.

We are fighting for a UK that stands for liberal, internationalist and compassionate values on the world stage.

The Integrated Review is not strategic, not integrated and not a proper review. It isn't even conclusive, finishing by saying that it will be followed by "further strategies".

Leaving the World's Poorest Behind

The Conservative Government's short-sighted budget-slashing not only breaks their promise to the British people and the world's poorest, but makes a mockery of their global ambitions and our reputation on the world stage.

The UK's development spending represents the best of British values. Reneging on the commitment to retain 0.7% of GNI is a short-sighted mistake that will hit the world's poorest the hardest. We need a cast-iron guarantee and roadmap that will see this unlawful cut restored next year and if it won't, for the Conservative Government to bring the permanent cut to vote.

Nuclear Policies Risking Arms Race

The Government has cut aid, but they say they can spend more on nuclear warheads. This is totally unacceptable. Proposals to increase the number of Trident warheads by more than 40% should not go forward. This is a direct breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Increasing our nuclear arsenal now will not strengthen our defence. The world faces many threats to peace and stability. We should not add to those threats by encouraging a return to the nuclear arms race.

Unacceptable Prioritisation of Economic Ties Before Human Rights

Our global reputation must be rescued. Human rights must always come first. You don't pick and choose. Yet, the Conservative Government has once again made it clear that they have no issue putting economic ties before human rights in relations with China, Saudi Arabia and others. The Foreign Secretary has even said it himself.

This comes as no surprise - the Conservative Government's political games on the Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill have made clear their prioritisation of trade and winning votes in Parliament at the expense of upholding human rights.

Budget Blackholes and Armed Forces Cuts

Our Armed forces are being cut back and the Defence budget is in a mess.

Cuts to our forces, reducing them from 82,000 to 72,000, to address a £17 billion budget hole is characteristic of this Government's financial mismanagement. This comes despite a £16.5 billion financial boost to the Ministry of Defence's budget announced last year.

The Government's 10,000 person-cut to the armed forces is also a feeble attempt to cover up their further failure to meet recruitment targets.

Indecisive Action on Threats and Allies

The Government categorise China as a "systemic competitor" while failing to take decisive, firm action on the Uyghur Genocide and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Russia is described as an "active threat", yet the Russia Report's recommendations still haven't been implemented.

This Review is much less a tilt to the Indo-Pacific than a tilt away from Europe. Little reference is made to the potential for strengthened relations with our closest partner - the European Union. Liberal Democrats continue to call for the closest possible alignment between the UK and EU. The Government must engage with the EU on a future framework for joint foreign, security and defence action.

The Conservative Government has failed to show leadership with the Integrated Review. Liberal Democrats are calling them out on their broken promises. We continue the fight for a UK that stands for liberal, internationalist and compassionate values on the world stage.