Madame Deputy Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement on the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh.
Two years ago, the Government’s Integrated Review set out a clear strategy on how the United Kingdom would continue to thrive in a far more competitive age.
Our approach is the most comprehensive since the end of the Cold War.
It laid out how we would bring together the combined might of every part of government to ensure that our country remains safe, prosperous and influential into the 2030s.
And the conclusions of that review have run as a golden strategic thread through all of our activities across defence and deterrence, diplomacy, trade and investment, intelligence, security, international development, science and technology over the last 2 years.
Our overall analysis was right and our strategic ambition, on track.
On every continent of the world the United Kingdom walks taller today than it has done for many years.
We are meeting our obligations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a leading European ally within an expanding NATO. We have strong relationships with our neighbours in Europe and we will build on the Windsor Framework to invigorate them even further.
We are deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific, active in Africa, and enjoy thriving relationships with countries in the Middle East and the Gulf.
Now this House I am sure will recall that today is Commonwealth Day and I will be meeting my fellow Commonwealth foreign ministers in London over the course of this week.
We have maintained our position as a global leader on international development by pursuing patient, long-term partnerships tailored to the needs of our partner countries. And we succeed because those partnerships draw on the full range of UK strengths and expertise, in addition to our Official Development Assistance.
And as this House will of course be aware, the severe global turbulence forecast in the 2021 Integrated Review has indeed come to pass. But the events have moved at an even quicker pace than I think anyone could have imagined just 2 years ago.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attempts to annex part of its sovereign territory challenge the entire international order.
Across the world, state threats have grown and systematic competition has intensified. There is a growing prospect of further deterioration in the coming years.
Because of the far-reaching consequences for the security and prosperity of the British people that these changes have brought, it is right that I update the House on what the government is doing to respond.
In our 2023 Integrated Review Refresh we set out how we will respond to an even more contested and volatile world. Rightly, our approach is an evolution not a revolution.
And I know this House will agree that our most pressing foreign policy priority is the threat that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine poses for European security.
The UK has provided huge quantities of military support for Ukraine’s defence. We led the G7 response on Ukraine, coordinating diplomatic activity and working with our allies to impose the toughest ever sanctions on Putin’s government.
And thanks to the wisdom of this government’s original Integrated Review, we intensified our training for thousands of brave Ukrainian troops who repelled Russia’s initial onslaught.
But this momentum must be maintained until Ukraine prevails and the wider threat that Russia, and other states such as Iran or North Korea pose to the international order is contained.
The 2023 Integrated Review Refresh also sets out how the government will approach the challenges presented by China. China’s size and significance connect it to almost every global issue. But we cannot be blind to the increasingly aggressive military and economic behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party, including stoking tensions across the Taiwan Strait and attempts to strong-arm partners, most recently Lithuania.
We will increase our national security protections and ensure alignment with both our core allies and a wider set of international partners.
And we must build our own, and our allies’, resilience to cyber threats, manipulation of information, economic instability and energy shocks, so that we remain at the front of the race for technologies like fusion power that will define not only the next decade, but the rest of this century.
Madame Deputy Speaker, my Right Honourable friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will say more on government spending commitments in his Spring Statement on Wednesday. But today I can set out a number of both immediate and longer term measures that will help us deliver on our priorities, and they are as follows:
We will increase defence spending by a further £5 billion over the next 2 years. This will bring us to around 2.25% of national income and represents significant progress in meeting our long-term minimum defence spending target of 2.5% of GDP.
Today’s announcement of £5 billion comes on top of the commitments made by the Chancellor in his Autumn Budget Statement, on top of the £560 million of new investments last year and on top of the record £20 billion uplift announced in 2020.
Later today the Prime Minister will announce, alongside President Biden and Prime Minister Albanese, the next steps for AUKUS, including how we will deliver multibillion pound conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine capabilities to the Royal Australian Navy, while setting the highest non-proliferation standards.
We will provide an additional £20 million uplift to the BBC World Service over the next 2 years, protecting all 42 World Service language services.
We have also established a new directorate in the FCDO, incorporating the Government Information Cell, to increase our capacity to assess and counter hostile information manipulation by actors, including Russia and China, where it affects UK interests overseas.
We will double funding for Chinese expertise and capacities in government so that we have more Mandarin speakers and China experts.
And we will create a new £1 billion Integrated Security Fund to deliver critical programmes at home and overseas on key priorities like economic and cyber security, counter terrorism and on the battle to uphold and defend human rights.
We will establish a new National Protective Services Authority. Located within MI5, it will provide UK businesses and other organisations with immediate access to expert security advice.
And a new £50 million Economic Deterrence Initiative will strengthen sanctions enforcement and impact and will also give us new tools to respond to hostile acts.
We will be publishing the UK’s first semiconductor strategy, which will grow our domestic industry for this vital technology, as well as an updated critical minerals strategy.
The 2023 Integrated Review reconfirms that the UK will play a leading role in upholding stability, security and the prosperity of our continent and the Euro-Atlantic as a whole. It underlines that this government’s investment in our Indo-Pacific strategy is yielding significant results across defence, diplomacy and trade.
Madame Deputy Speaker, through these initiatives and the many others we have set out over the past 2 years, the United Kingdom will out-compete those who seek to destabilise the international order and undermine global stability.
Our approach is imbued with a spirit of international cooperation and a pragmatic willingness to work with any country that does not seek to undermine our way of life.
We live in a competitive age and the security challenges the British people face today are the most serious in at least a generation.
Time and again in our history, we have seen off the competition from countries that wished to do us no good.
We were able to do so because the United Kingdom has always had more allies – and better allies – than any of our rivals or competitors.
This will always be the policy of this government to ensure that remains the case and I commend this statement to the House.