With the Conservative Party leadership contest now down to the final two candidates, Liberation is keen to see that the new prime minister commits to an agenda based upon respect for human rights; active support for UN development goals; opposition to British intervention in foreign conflicts; no arms sales to dictatorships; and a commitment to peace negotiations to end existing conflicts.
The escalation in military expenditure over recent years, to maintain a commitment to NATO of defence spending at 2% of GDP, has seen Britain engaged in a range of armed conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. British weapons have been at the core of the bombardment of Yemen since 2015 by the Saudi led coalition, creating one of the world’s worst ever humanitarian disasters.
The Global Britain policy of outgoing Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been central to the concept of British intervention beyond UK borders. Deployment of aircraft carrier capacity in the South China Sea, well outside any reasonable definition of the UK’s ‘sphere of interest’, potentially puts the UK in the frontline in any conflict with China. Given the current direction of United States foreign policy, with a belligerent attitude being displayed towards China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, such a conflict is possible to foresee.
The existing commitment to replace the US-controlled Trident nuclear submarine programme will only exacerbate the level of UK spend on weapons of mass destruction, draining much needed resources from vital domestic services, as well as reducing the UK’s support of international development initiatives.
For too long UK foreign policy has been led by the perceived interests of the US and the NATO military alliance. This has not been to the benefit of the people of the UK; has generated the crisis in migration, as people seek to flee armed conflict; and has significantly reduced the credibility of the UK in the field of international diplomacy.
A new prime minister coming into office will provide an opportunity to reassess the priorities for the UK internationally and put the agenda for peace, social justice and democracy at the forefront of British foreign policy.
Liberation calls for the incoming Prime Minister to commit to a root and branch review of British foreign policy and the international role of the UK. An independent British foreign policy should be led by the interests of the British people, not the imperialist designs of the US.
Military spending should be reduced to focus on socially useful production, such as addressing the issues presented by the climate emergency.
Such an approach would be the basis for a programme of massive social change in the UK, making a genuine commitment to levelling up, and making the UK a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers. Such an approach would be politically progressive, popular, humanitarian, and independent. It would be a huge step forward in protecting the citizens of the UK as well as those fleeing conflict elsewhere. It is an approach which any prime minister should be proud to adopt.
21st July 2022