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In his introduction to the Integrated Review, the Prime Minister sets out his overarching vision for “Global Britain” within the next decade:

  • The UK will play “a more active part” in sustaining an international order in which open societies and economies continue to flourish.
  • The UK will sit at the heart of a network of “like minded countries and flexible groupings” committed to protecting human rights and upholding global norms.
  • The UK will embrace innovation in science and technology to boost national prosperity and strategic advantage.
  • The UK will be a “soft power” superpower.
  • The UK will continue to take a leading role in security, diplomacy and development, conflict resolution and poverty reduction. The UK aims to be a model for an integrated approach to tackling global challenges.
  • As a maritime trading nation, the UK will be a global champion of free and fair trade. The openness of the UK’s economy will be protected from corruption, manipulation, exploitation and the theft of intellectual property.
  • Climate change and tackling biodiversity loss will be a priority for the UK on the international agenda.
  • The UK’s diplomatic service, armed forces and security and intelligence services will be the most effective and innovative, relative to their size. They will be characterised by agility, responsiveness and digital integration. There will be a greater emphasis on engaging, training and assisting others.
  • The UK will retain its nuclear deterrent. Its military capabilities will have global reach and be integrated across all five operational domains. The UK will develop a dynamic space programme and be one of the world’s “leading democratic cyber powers”.

The review subsequently sets out the Government’s integrated approach to realising this vision. Among its key points:

  • The rules-based international order is being challenged. It is now more fragmented and characterised by competition between states over interests, norms, and values.  The UK must no longer defend the status quo, but adapt and work with partners to shape the international order of the future.
  • The UK remains committed to multilateralism and seeks to be “a force for good in the world”. Some international challenges, such as climate change, can only be addressed by working with others, including those countries that do not share the same values as the UK.
  • Collective action with partners will be vital. The US remains the UK’s most important strategic ally. The UK’s commitment to European security remains unequivocal and the bulk of the UK’s security focus will be on the Euro-Atlantic region. Russia remains the biggest threat within this region and NATO will continue to provide the “foundation of collective security”.
  • There will be a tilt toward the Indo-Pacific, in recognition of the fact that the geopolitical and economic centre of gravity will have shifted towards this region by 2030.
  • Rapid technological change is changing societies, economies and partnerships. The geopolitical role of non-state actors, including big tech companies, will continue to grow. Cyber and space are becoming increasingly contested domains. The ability to advance and exploit science and technology in these domains will be an increasingly important metric of global power. The UK’s aim is to be a Science and Tech Superpower by 2030 and a responsible democratic cyber power. 
  • China is becoming increasingly powerful and assertive on the world stage. This, combined with its military modernisation, poses increasing risk to UK interests. The review identifies China as the “biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security”.  The Government will invest in “China-facing capabilities”, while at the same time pursing a positive trade and investment relationship with China. 
  • The review lays out a vision of an armed forces with global reach and integrated military capabilities across all five operational domains. Forces will be more persistently engaged worldwide.
  • Military forces will be modernised, maintaining a full spectrum of capabilities. The MOD will prioritise the development and integration of new, emerging technologies such as artifical intelligence and offensive cyber.  The review does not, however, set out any changes to UK force structure and capabilities. These are likely to be contained in a Defence Command Paper which is due to be published on 22 March 2021.
  • The UK remains committed to a credible minimum nuclear deterrent, assigned to the defence of NATO. However, the evolving security environment means that the UK will no longer reduce its nuclear stockpile to the levels set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. Instead of a stockpile of no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s, the UK will now increase its overall stockpile to no more than 260 warheads. A stockpile level last seen in the early 00s. The UK will also stop publishing figures on the size of the nuclear stockpile, operational warheads and deployed missiles.
  •  The UK will return to its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on development “when the fiscal situation allows”.
  • Recognising that Covid will not be the last global crisis of the 2020s, the review places an increased emphasis on stengthening security and building national resilience. 

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