LONDON: The UK has a central role to play on the world stage as an independent sovereign state, a leading member of the Western alliance, and an energetic and dependable partner in the growing prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday.
Addressing the US Aspen Security Forum virtually a day after Britain released its flagship Integrated Review of foreign policy, the senior Cabinet minister warned that democracy is under threat around the world and therefore the policy document singles out like-minded nations, such as India, who will be key to upholding democratic values and interests.
He also named India among the countries that would help address the need for diversified global supply chains with high trust vendors.
The UK will remain anchored in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation], in Five Eyes, a close US ally, a friend of the Gulf, a dependable European neighbour and partner, a passionate member of the Commonwealth.
But, Global Britain will also be able and willing to forge and follow agile clusters with like-minded countries, where our values and our interests demand it, said Raab.
That's why you can see under our Presidency of the G7 that we've invited India, South Korea and Australia to join this year's summit, because we in the West, we have got to broaden our reach and appeal, if we are going to tackle global challenges and manage the threats we face today, he said.
Pointing to some of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that it showed up very clearly the weaknesses of the global supply chain model, as every country around the world queued up for personal protective equipment (PPE) from China and a small number of other mass-producing countries.
Of course, we embrace the power of the market and we value our trade with China.
But we will also develop new partnerships with existing allies, and other high trust vendors.
We will work with the likes of Estonia and Norway, India and Israel, Singapore and South Korea, and many others, to diversify our supply chains from manufacturing to tech, to shore up our economic resilience, he said.
With reference to the Global Britain in a Competitive Age' Integrated Review, which calls for an Indo-Pacific tilt in the UK's foreign policy, the minister reiterated a commitment to the East as part of a common mission to strengthen democracy.
Warning that democracy is in retreat, Raab pointed out that in the next decade, the combined wealth of autocratic regimes is likely to exceed that of the world's democracies.
He noted: Just take a second to think about what that means. Tyranny is richer than freedom. And that matters to us here at home because we know stable, freedom-respecting, democracies are much less likely to go to war, to house terrorists or to trigger large scale flows of immigration.
Democracies are generally, not always, but generally easier to trade with and easier to cooperate with to solve our shared problems.
That's the first problem.
The second trend is the rise of new threats.
We have all become used to talking about asymmetric warfare since 9/11 but technology, twisted to perverse causes, is creating dangerous new weapons which falls short of armed conflict.
He said the UK has a moral responsibility and an indivisible stake in the planet, global economy and ecosystem to protect the peace and stability that underpin them.
The minister championed the UK's commitment to free trade, which he said reflects a deeply-held belief in human exchange as a force for good.
Britain is truly global, and that gives us an edge, he declared.