Ben Everitt is the MP for Milton Keynes North.
The horrific scenes we have seen from Mariupol to Bucha show the barbarism of Russia’s war in Ukraine. We have an entered a period of global disruption, where the post-Cold War order has frayed and fractured.
From the provision of lethal aid, to world leading sanctions, Global Britain is at the forefront of the international response.
In the face of resurgent autocracies, now is the time to refresh our historic alliances. As the Foreign Secretary said this week: “we must reboot, recast and remodel our approach” and secure “a world where free nations are assertive and in the ascendant”.
This means a NATO that is flexible, agile, and integrated. A strengthened relationship with the US, to support freedom and economic security around the world. Embracing our Commonwealth ties from the Caribbean to India, and looking across the Channel and using Emmanuel Macron’s re-election to ensure the Entente really is cordiale.
Ukraine has shown the necessity of a joint approach between old friends. The UK has led the way in strengthening NATO’s eastern flank by increasing our troop presence and deepening our defence cooperation. We’ve doubled down on regional security by providing more troops to the region.
This week it was announced over 8,000 British troops will be deployed from Finland to North Macedonia as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force/NATO exercises.
It also means exciting new alliances around the globe. The tilt to the East means pre-empting threats in the Pacific. By working with allies like Japan and Australia, we can ensure the region is protected and democracies, like Taiwan, able to defend themselves.
Through joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership we the UK will cement its place as the hub of a global network of freedom and democracy.
Now we have left the EU we are able to establish partnerships with allies like Israel, India, and Indonesia. By building these economic and security partnerships we can set the rule book of the future. No longer will there be a free for all, but rather membership of the international order will need to be earned.
Dean Acheson, a post-Suez US Secretary of State, quipped that Britain had “not yet found a role” and was “about played out”. These days Britain is back. From trade to aid, from diplomacy to military support, the UK is present in the four quarters of the globe.
But with great power comes great responsibility. This means integrating foreign and domestic policy. While Britain leads abroad it needs to ensure security at home.
This means robust supply chains, so we are not in hoc to China and other countries who may not play by the rules. As countries struggle with the decimation of Ukrainian agriculture, we need to put land into production and reduce our dependency on foreign grain.
We’re entering a new era, but the adversaries remain the same: arevanchist Russia whose autocratic nature hasn’t changed from the days of the Tsars or Soviet Commissars, and a China that thinks the rules don’t apply. Britain must be assertive in the face of constant, and often unfair, competition.
This means being clear to China that they must play by the rules. They’re not afraid to take a role on the world stage, be it neutrality in the face of Russian aggression, coercing Lithuania, or commenting on potential NATO membership. But being a player means playing by the rules.
The G7 represents over half the global economy. If China wants to trade with us it needs to make a choice. Ukraine has shown that we will make the difficult decision when the rules are broken, and we’ll take security over short-term gain. There is a cost to doing nothing and the UK isn’t prepared to pay it.
Most of the world is willing to play by these rules and we need an offer to those who want to do so.
That is why the Government has launched British International Investment to provide a source of honest and reliable finance that will counter China’s Belt and Road initiative. While China has clients, we have partners.
We are standing up for democracy, transparency, fairness, compassion, and a respect for sovereignty. That is why we are building economic and security partnerships with likeminded nations around the world. While Russia has proxies, Britain has friends.
While Russia and China may see our values as a weakness, they are our greatest strength. In an era of global disruption our values and resolve is more important than ever. Freedom-loving democracies like Britain will lead the way, and we will win