Rishi Sunak will outline his vision for a “hard-headed” foreign policy approach that defends UK values from adversaries at a time for “moral clarity” as war rages in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The Prime Minister will speak of the UK’s desire to “shape the world” as he highlights his record on forging international partnerships on defence, trade and migration.
Mr Sunak, who has claimed he represents change from his Tory predecessors, will pledge to leave behind “past dogmas, assumptions and structures” in dealing with other nations, Downing Street said.
In a major foreign policy speech on Monday, he will tell international dignitaries and business leaders: “In these dangerous times, we’re not just defending a better vision of the future against those who would destroy it, we’re marshalling our expertise, our people and our alliances to bring that future into being.
“So, we’ll continue to stand up for what is right … and show that our values will prevail.”
Calling 2023 “one of the most significant years” for UK foreign policy in recent times, he will point to the signing of the Windsor Framework with the European Union, the update of UK foreign and security policy and the announcement of plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus partnership with the US and Australia.
The UK also struck migration deals with France, Italy and Albania, confirmed its accession to a major Indo-Pacific trade bloc and hosted an international summit on artificial intelligence safety.
The Windsor Framework trading arrangements agreed by London and Brussels were seen as a key step in improving post-Brexit relations, after the more combative approaches taken by Mr Sunak’s predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
In his speech at the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London’s Guildhall, Mr Sunak will say: “These treaties and alliances speak to something deeper: our willingness to act, to shape the world, not be shaped by it, wherever there’s a challenge, wherever there’s a threat, wherever we can promote peace and security.”
The Prime Minister will say that while the UK is pragmatic in its foreign policy approach, it is a time for “moral clarity” as he notes UK support for Kyiv in its struggle against Russia’s invasion and humanitarian support for civilians in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“We’re hard-headed about what’s necessary for our interests and security. But Britain’s realism has always had values and this is a moment for moral clarity,” he will say.
Mr Sunak will also promise to intensify UK efforts to work towards a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
He will say: “The UK wrote the original UN resolutions setting out a two-state solution. We’ve argued for it for decades. But now we must help make it a reality.
“So, to the UK’s friends across the region and to our communities in this country, I pledge to redouble British efforts to this end.”
He will say that Britain will never “lose patience” in backing Ukraine, calling Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion a “self-inflicted strategic calamity” that he “cannot win”.
The speech comes as Mr Sunak faces calls at home to sack his Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she was accused of inflaming tensions over a pro-Palestinian march in London.
Labour said its foreign policy would prioritise “reconnecting” Britain, making it a “dependable ally” and a leader in development and climate action.
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “As we face huge geopolitical change, conflict and the climate crisis, foreign policy and domestic policy have become intertwined. More than ever, we need a strong Britain on the world stage.
“But 13 years of Conservative government has left Britain increasingly disconnected from our closest allies, with a tarnished international reputation, and reduced influence in the world.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub