UK Foreign Policy Review: Return to Cold War-Style Superpowers Unlikely

UK Foreign Policy Review: Return to Cold War-Style Superpowers Unlikely

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled plans to radically overhaul UK foreign and defense policy to recognize the realities of Brexit.

The UK’s new foreign policy stems from a preconception that a return to Cold War-style superpowers is unlikely to happen, while “middle powers” are likely to grow in their influence. Presenting his foreign policy review to the British parliament, Johnson asserted that London’s primary approach will be “diplomacy first”.

The head of the British government announced that London is planning to continue defending the “integrity of [the] nation” in the face of state threats, pointing at China and Russia as a potential source of challenges in this field.

The foreign policy review namely said that Beijing’s increasing power and assertiveness are likely to become the main “geopolitical factor” of the current decade. The document stressed that the UK will have to make more efforts to adapt to China’s growing impact on the world.

At the same time, London is not planning on cutting ties to Beijing for good. Instead, the UK plans on developing a positive trade and investment relationship with China. While presenting the policy, Johnson elaborated that London will cooperate with Beijing, where its values are consistent with those of the UK.

Speaking about Russia, the review labelled the country the “most acute threat” to the UK’s security in the Euro-Atlantic region. The foreign policy paper vowed that the UK will actively defend against the “full spectrum of threats” presumably emanating from Russia, as well as take steps to deter Moscow.

“Through NATO, we will ensure a united Western response, combining our military, diplomatic, and intelligence assets in support of collective security. We will uphold international rules and norms and hold Russia to account for breaches of these, working with our international partners”, the review read.

State actors, however, are not the only source of threats that Johnson’s foreign policy review aims to deal with. Under the new guidelines, London will establish a Counter Terrorism Center (CTOC) that will include security and intelligence agencies, government departments, as well as certain parts of the judicial system in an attempt to get an upper hand in dealing with the evolving threat of terrorism, according to the review.

“This integrated approach will: improve the speed of response, with multi-agency teams established dynamically to tackle incidents as they unfold; strengthen end-to-end management of terrorist offenders; and foster innovation”, the document says.

The review outlined a significant change to the country’s nuclear forces, citing the necessity for changes dictated by the “evolving security environment”.

Under its new foreign policy, London will scrap previous plans to limit the number of nuclear warheads to 180 by the middle of the 2020s. Instead, the UK will ramp up the limit all the way to 260 warheads, with Johnson claiming the reduction was “no longer possible” due to a “developing range of technological and doctrinal threats”.

NATO will not be the only entity that London will rely on in maintaining the country’s security, according to the UK’s foreign policy review. The United States will remain the most important ally of the UK, the document noted. In addition to Washington, London announced that it will rely on close security partnerships with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development, and Foreign Policy will also involve a tilt towards India and the Pacific.


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