British Prime Minister unveils integrated defence, security review 

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
London  Published: Mar 16, 2021, 11:15 PM(IST)

(File photo) UK PM Boris Johnson Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Boris Johnson announced a sweeping overhaul of Britain's domestic affairs, defence, diplomacy and international priorities. A revamp that reflects the Prime Minister's freewheeling and disruptive personality. It lays out a more activist approach to international relations

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a personality politician. The kind that Britain hasn't known since Winston Churchill and much like Churchill, he is trying to shape the United Kingdom in his image. Look at the blueprint, the integrated defence and security review, that he unveiled while addressing the House of Commons on Tuesday evening. 

Boris Johnson announced a sweeping overhaul of Britain's domestic affairs, defence, diplomacy and international priorities. A revamp that reflects the Prime Minister's freewheeling and disruptive personality. It lays out a more activist approach to international relations.  

It redirects London's foreign policy towards the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, it also lays out a plan to lift the cap on the number of nuclear warheads that the UK can stockpile and a plan to outlaw any protests that cause serious unease or annoyance.  

This blueprint is both consequential and controversial. Team Johnson is billing it as the most wide-ranging re-evaluation of the UK's place in the world since the end of the cold war. How accurate is this assertion? 

It's an ambitious new chapter for the United Kingdom on the global stage. The integrated defence and security review promises to make the UK a global force once again but without any old obligations. There are four areas of interest and importance.   

The Chinese regime has been recognised as the foremost state-based threat to Britain. Speaking in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson singled out China as a country that will pose great challenges for the free British society, but he was notably cautious and measured in his statement. He also promised to work with China where it is consistent with British values and interests. 

The integrated review also sets out a significant foreign policy shift like the tilt to the Indo-Pacific. 

This year, the Queen Elizabeth carrier will undertake its first operational deployment in the region. In April, the British Prime Minister will travel to India and he is also looking to build a Quad-like alliance with South-East Asian nations. With the G7 presidency in its hand, the UK has invited India, Australia and South Korea to attend the G7 summit scheduled for June this year. 

Some controversial decisions have also been taken like a nuclear stockpile upgrade. Britain is lifting the cap on the number of Trident nuclear warheads, it can stockpile by 40%. This decision will end 30 years of gradual disarmament since the cold war ended. The increased limit from 180 to 260 warheads is largely aimed at building deterrence against hostile states. 

Another controversial decision is a proposed law on protest. What kind of protests will be allowed? 

Any protest, which is noisy or causes serious annoyance, will be outlawed. Those who indulge in such protests could face up to 10 years in prison. The law will also limit the right to protest outside the British Parliament. It will provide police officers with significantly greater powers to crackdown. 

From global priorities to domestic concerns, this is indeed the biggest overhaul of British policy in a generation. Boris Johnson has laid the roadmap for a post-Brexit Britain. Whether he will be able to get the UK to the desired destination remains to be seen.  

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