Brexit and Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:43 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 9:43 pm, 26th June 2017

I have already congratulated the hon. Gentleman on his remarks about our armed forces. I am glad that he at least among Opposition Members supports our armed forces. He will know that we are committed not only to spending 2% of our GDP on defence, but to a further 0.5% increment every year until 2020. As my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary has pointed out, we will maintain the size of our armed forces, which are superb and the best in the world.

Even more important than our military firepower and throw-weight, however, and even more important than our vast aid budget, is Britain’s soft power—[Interruption.] Liz McInnes interjects from a sedentary position to suggest that our aid budget is not vast. Having spent a year in this job and having flown around the world, I can tell her that the world is lost in admiration for how much this country spends on international development and for the efficacy of British aid spending. She should be proud of what the Department for International Development does. It is a huge, huge sum of money. By the way, the only question is how we can ensure that that wonderful aid budget is used so as to deliver the political and economic objectives of this country more effectively, and that is what we are working on.

Even more important than our vast aid budget is our soft power—the sometimes invisible network through which this country’s ideas and values are projected around the world. It can be seen through our partnerships and friendships in Europe, and with the overseas territories and dependencies. A couple of hon. Members asked about the future of Gibraltar. Let us be absolutely clear that the sovereignty of Gibraltar is inviolable and will remain so for as long as this Government are in power.