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Global Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 3:42 pm, 30th January 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Bob Stewart. Today’s debate comes at a crossroads in our island’s story. In the 1950s, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson said:

Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role.”

The role we eventually found for half a century was in the European Union, and now our citizens have decided in aggregate that we leave the European Union and forge a new destination. What is that to be?

Global Britain, at the moment, is a slogan in search of a strategy, and it is the duty of this Government and all of us to bring it alive. I welcome the announcement of the security, defence and foreign policy review and lots of work in other Departments, and I hope that the Budget will pivot to boosting Departments that can deliver a more global Britain. The good news is that we have most of the ingredients already. It is now about the recipe and how we bring them together.

Here are some of the key elements beyond language, law, history and the Commonwealth. Domestically, we are the top destination for foreign direct investment in Europe. Last year, we had more investment in technology than the US or China. We have a strong domestic starting point for engagement with the world. Abroad, as a result of a significant change made by this Government, some £12 billion of funds used through the Department for International Development has achieved remarkable things—since 2015, some 76 million children have been immunised, and some 60 million women, children and girls have benefited from nutrition programmes.

We now have in the Department for International Trade, so recently created, more trade negotiators than the US Trade Representative. We have exports that have risen 22% in the last three years—now over £654 billion—and that are contributing 30% or almost a third of our GDP, up from 27%. We now have in our diplomacy 14 new posts and, I believe, the greatest global diplomatic coverage of any nation in the world. On issues such as the environment, we are now hosting the climate change summit, COP26, in Glasgow.

When it comes to sport and culture, we are leading in so many ways, whether in films, TV, the premier league, singers—you name it. Our values have never been forgotten. We are leading on Christians in danger, media freedoms and girls in education, as well as the campaign against rape as a weapon of war, as mentioned earlier by my hon. Friend Anthony Mangnall. So we do have much to build on.