Global Britain and the International Rules-based Order

Part of Brexit, Science and Innovation – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight 3:49 pm, 6th September 2018

Yes. One of the points I am coming to later—I thank my hon. Friend for mentioning it—is that we are at the moment in a global struggle with authoritarian states that wish to use cyber but also open societies to undermine thse open societies and the freedoms that we have. Therefore, to the see the BBC—the World Service, radio and TV—endlessly begging for money is, again, a luxury that we cannot afford. I believe that we should rebalance overseas spending, respecting aid, but redefining how that is done.

Do we have a grand strategy, or is grand strategy a thing of the past? It very much feels that we are simply muddling through with a foreign policy. We have stumbled into Brexit. I voted for Brexit, but we have stumbled into it. The European Union has treated this like the mother of all vicious divorces, while we have treated it as a flat-share partnership in which we are going our separate ways. I think that if we stumble into a global Brexit, it will not be particularly helpful to our future.

Those are just some of the questions. I will also be thinking about these themes, and writing about them, as I have today on ConservativeHome. I know that the Foreign Office and other parts of our Government are very focused on Brexit—in fact, politically, our political classes are obsessed by it to the diminishment of the domestic agenda, which I think is extremely serious in its own right—but more thinking on global Britain would not go amiss.

To come on to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the international order is under threat.