by Mark Field MP
"In this fresh parliament, we have already made a distinctive break from the preceding five years. We have committed ourselves to spending two per cent of GDP on defence for each of the years to 2020 (a key NATO pledge previously ducked), the development budget has been maintained and more money is being dedicated to the work of our security services. October’s Chinese State visit firmly restated Conservatives’ commitment to Britain as a global trading nation. We were finally able to pass a decisive parliamentary vote for cooperative action in Syria, and now lead a reform agenda in the EU which could make way for two-tier membership.
In taking these lines, I suspect the Prime Minister is broadly in tune with the instincts of the public. British people appreciate the complexity of modern foreign affairs. They wish the UK to continue to play a prominent role in international diplomacy, maintaining our membership of NATO and place on the UN Security Council. They complement our historical Commonwealth links with a huge array of international connections of their own built from business and travel experiences as well as increasingly diverse family ties. They are proud of Britain’s global cultural influence. But they remain as suspicious and sceptical as ever of grand projects and short-lived successes, acknowledging the limits of our ability as a mid-tier nation to mould outcomes.
With our historical relationships, military and aid resource, and cultural and economic clout, the UK is now uniquely placed to articulate a more patient, reform-minded and flexible approach to international affairs. This will involve utilising the resource of our Armed Forces, Foreign Office and DfID in a much more coordinated way but also the skills and expertise of our many and varied professionals – lawyers, financiers, tech experts and educators."