Global Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 1:07 pm, 30th January 2020

Let us see what comes forward. Sure, I am all for that debate. My hon. Friend Patrick Grady is much more qualified on these affairs than me. I will welcome it only if it is a genuinely good plan. If it is a good plan, we will be the first to welcome it. None the less, I have to say that, given who the International Trade Secretary is and given the short history that she has in office on these types of affairs, I am not exactly expecting very much.

The Secretary of State also mentioned the upcoming integrated defence and foreign policy review. We have had a number of miniature defence reviews over the past few years. It would be helpful if the Minister could tell us whether this will be a proper strategic defence and security review, or will be fiscally neutral—a bit like the modernising defence programme?

Think about the context in which this debate is happening. Earlier this week we heard the Government announce their Faustian pact with the Chinese Communist party over Huawei. The announcement comes from a position of great weakness. It is gullible Britain, not global Britain, that I see from this side of the House, and the sooner the Government are honest about it, the better.

I have a few other questions. More broadly, what exactly is the China strategy? We talk a lot about Russia, and rightly so—I note that the Minister who covers Ukraine is here, and he knows of my interest in that part of the world—but what is the China strategy?

What is the strategy to fix the utterly broken instrument that is the UN Security Council? It is supposed to underpin security, freedom and the international rules that keep us safe and allow free trade, but it has become largely redundant. Will NATO, which faces all kinds of strife, internally and externally, be included in the integrated review?

Will there be some kind of assessment of our capability? Tories love nothing more than thumping their chests and reminding us that Britain spends 2% of GDP on defence. That is wonderful, but what does it mean for our capability? That is where the debate really needs to go.

We need to hear more about the Government’s supine response to the Trump Palestine-Israel plan, which we had a brief exchange about this morning. The Government could not quite bring themselves to wholly disown the plan. Admittedly, it is not their plan, but it strikes me that they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on this. It is time to show some muscle, to be honest and to stand up for international law. If we are against the annexation of Crimea—we are right to be—we should be against the annexation of Palestinian land, and I would like the Minister to make that clear when he sums up.

To conclude, the Conservative party—and, by the sounds of it, the Labour party—might have given up on this country being a member of the European Union, but Scotland certainly has not. We will always be open to Europe. We will always be a place where Europe and the world can come and have a conversation—hopefully we will do more than that—and keep contributing to Scotland. The challenge for my party, and for my country, is to live up to the maxim that Winnie Ewing set out in 1967, when she said:

“Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.”

Well, we want to get on and do more, and the saltire will not be drowned out by any of this global Britain nonsense.