Boris Johnson will today launch a fresh review into Britain’s foreign and defence policy, as he seeks to redefine the nation’s national security position post-Brexit.
The Integrated Review, which will look into the UK’s foreign, defence, security and development policies, is set to be the largest government-led review since the end of the Cold War.
It will be led by civil servant Sir Alex Ellis and will be overseen by a raft of national security experts from inside and outside the civil service, as well as a cross-Whitehall team in the cabinet.
The inquiry has signalled the first major increase in defence spending for more than five years, suggesting that the defence budget — currently earmarked at two per cent of GDP — is likely to increase to more than £38bn per year.
Johnson said: “We cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more… to ensure British foreign policy is rooted firmly in our national interests, now and in the decades ahead.”
The major foreign policy “overhaul” will also probe a wide-range of security-related topics, from official procurement processes to the UK’s use of technology and data.
The PM’s chief aide Dominic Cummings, who is believed to be involved in the review, has been a vocal opponent of the government’s procurement methods.
Last year, Cummings said the procurement process “has continued to squander billions of pounds, enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists”.
Johnson added that the inquiry will establish Britain’s relationship with its allies, to become a “burden-sharing nation”, as the PM seeks to define the nation’s global position.
The government currently faces a spate of tough foreign policy challenges — most notably, securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week warned that negotiations are unlikely to meet easy resolution, and that two sides will “rip each other apart”.
Johnson is also keen to firm up Britain’s place on the international map by signing a trade deal with the US. However, relations have soured slightly following Johnson’s decision to give the green light to Huawei to build the UK’s 5G network despite US opposition.
Johnson added: “As the world changes we must move with it — harnessing new technologies and ways of thinking to ensure British foreign policy is rooted firmly in our national interests.”