You are here
Following the December 2019 election, the Government announced: “the most radical assessment of the UK’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War”. Numerous external factors made this ambition sensible; a diminishing sense of globalisation’s inevitability, the UK’s exit from the EU required new consideration about British foreign policy and its value to the US as a bridge into Europe, further evidence of Russian revanchism, and questions about how best to engage with China. The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development was intended to report in autumn 2020 alongside a multi-year Comprehensive Spending Review, and to include hard decisions on defence and security priorities.
Since December 2019, RUSI has been contributing to the debate, and this page captures that input with links to writing relevant to the Review’s key themes. We also recommend reading the Defence Select Committee Report in this regard, and the Government’s response.
Given uncertainty over the state of the UK’s finances in light of COVID-19 and the terms and economic consequences of Brexit, the Government delayed the Comprehensive Spending Review. However, to provide some much-needed planning clarity for Defence, the Prime Minster has announced an exceptional multi-year settlement that provides an extra £16.5bn above the growth already promised in the Conservative Manifesto. Over the four years, this represents a real-term increase of between 10% and 15% in the Defence budget: equivalent to some £4 billion more annually than had been promised. The announcement, however, provided little clarity on the foreign policy ambition, and it appears likely that we will have to wait until the new year for the full Integrated Review to be revealed. In the meantime, the MoD will be under considerable pressure to ensure that its ambitions do not again outrun its (now significantly enhanced) means. There is also uncertainty over the future of the FCDO budget, with some press reports suggesting that its annual budget could be cut by as much as £4 billion in the Spending Review.
As the position evolves, RUSI will continue to contribute to the debate and update this webpage because this Integrated Review, if it lives up to the ambition set for it, has the potential to set the direction for UK foreign, defence and security policy for a generation.