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Global Britain Campaign

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 21 February 2017

Global Britain is a programme to help to explain to the world, but also to the people of this country, what I think they do not often suspect, which is the full range of Britain’s military, cultural, commercial and diplomatic influence in the world. It is important to do that now, particularly as we make our Brexit—or Bre-entry into the world, as we should perhaps call it—to help people to understand that a more global Britain will be a more prosperous Britain.

Will my right hon. Friend tell us how the various initiatives on building a global Britain as we leave the EU will help the people of the Yeovil constituency and the south-west of England?

I am delighted to tell my hon. Friend that over the next 10 years we will, for instance, be spending £178 billion on defence—we are one of the few countries in NATO to contribute 2% of our GDP to defence. As a result, there will be more funds available, for instance, to support companies in Yeovil, such as the helicopter company Leonardo MW, which, as far as I know, builds Wildcat submarine-hunting helicopters, among other vital bits of kit.

Does the Secretary of State agree that, in addition to defence spending, soft power—including the effective use of aid and increasing levels of trade and investment, which are helping businesses to find the most suitable partners—remains an essential part of the UK’s approach to boosting security in some of the more dangerous parts of the world?

I quite agree. Perhaps I can just give Members one stunning fact, which should seldom be off their lips when selling UK universities, for instance, to the world: of the Kings, Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers in the world today, one in seven was educated in this country, and London has more international students than any other city in the world.

Could we have a note of honesty in terms of an assessment of the nasty little hard Brexit campaign? Will the Foreign Secretary, instead of insulting the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as he did last week, take seriously the danger to this country of a hard Brexit? The people of this country did not sign a blank cheque, and they want a real vote on how good the deal is with Europe as we leave it.

I do not think that anybody could seriously say that the former Prime Minister has been insulted by any remarks I made last week. What I was trying to get over was my strong feeling that the debate was had last year and everybody understands that we are going forward with a new approach for this country— a global approach. It will be a clean Brexit and, I think, a highly successful Brexit, as the Prime Minister has said.

Given that a famine has just been declared in South Sudan, will the Foreign Secretary confirm that a truly global Britain will respond to such crises rather than siphoning off the aid budget on diplomatic empowerment funds?

I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware that the UK is one of the only countries in the world to contribute 0.7% of GNI to overseas development. We have a fantastic record not just in Sudan but across Africa. He is right to draw attention to the approaching famine in South Sudan. We have sent 400 troops to help deal with that emergency.