Boris Johnson will set out plans to drive investment into domestic industries when he announces the outcome of the Government’s far-ranging review of foreign and defence policy this week.
The Prime Minister said Britain’s international ambitions must “start at home”, as he pledged to use the Integrated Review to ensure the UK is on the cutting edge of innovation and “match fit” for a more competitive world.
Mr Johnson is expected to make the case for more investment in national infrastructure, innovation and skills – with a push for investment in industries including defence, technology and alternative energy.
He is said to want the UK to be stronger and more secure, prosperous and resilient by 2030.
The Integrated Review – covering foreign, defence, security and development policy – has been billed as the most significant overhaul of the UK’s strategic posture since the Cold War.
It will include commitments to build ships in Scotland and armoured vehicles in Wales, and contain plans for satellites to be manufactured in Northern Ireland and lithium to be mined in Cornwall.
In November Mr Johnson set out a £16.5 billion increase in defence spending over four years, and said the UK will once again become Europe’s leading naval power, while the RAF will get new high-tech jets and the military will be modernised.
The plans included the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.
Mr Johnson announced over the weekend that there would be a “cyber corridor” across the north of England, where the headquarters of the new National Cyber Force (NCF) will be based.
The Prime Minister will make a statement in the House of Commons outlining the review’s conclusions on Tuesday.
Ahead of the statement, he said: “The foundation of our foreign policy is who we are as a country: our values, our strengths and – most importantly – our people.
“So I am determined to ensure we have a foreign policy that delivers for those people.
“Our international ambitions must start at home, and through the Integrated Review we will drive investment back into our communities, ensuring the UK is on the cutting-edge of innovation and creating an entire country that is match-fit for a more competitive world.”
Mr Johnson is also expected to announce in the review that the number of Foreign Office staff based in East Kilbride will increase by 500.
It is the latest Whitehall department to move more staff out of London as part of the Government’s “levelling up” agenda.
Former Army chief General Sir Mike Jackson said his “primary concern” with the review was the “expected reduction in troop numbers to around 73,000”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former chief of general staff said further reducing the number of troops in the British Army risked Britain becoming “strategically insignificant”.
General Sir Mike wrote: “Defence officials promise a leaner, more agile Army. Their calculation is that our Special Forces’ capabilities, cyber strength and air power – backed up by investments in advanced technologies and innovative weapons systems – are more relevant to countering tomorrow’s threats. Perhaps they are right.
“But to dispel the notion fully, the integrated review must clearly articulate Britain’s post-Brexit goals and its global role.”
While the Integrated Review is expected to mark a shift away from “industrial age” capabilities, like heavy armour, towards the battlefields of the future such as cyber and space, Mr Johnson has been warned that the UK could be outgunned in a war with Russia.
MPs on the Commons Defence Committee said the British Army’s ageing tanks and armoured vehicles are likely to find themselves outgunned and overmatched in any conflict with Russian forces.
In a scathing report, the Committee said a series of botched procurement programmes meant the Army had been left with an armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) fleet facing “mass obsolescence”.
It said that whatever the outcome of the review, the Army needs to regain its “credibility” as it currently lacks sufficient armoured capability to make an “effective contribution” to Nato deterrence.