UK 'walks taller' in the world after Sunak's £5bn extra defence spending, Foreign Secretary says
The Government will "increase our national security protections" to respond to the challenges presented by China, the Foreign Secretary has said.
James Cleverly said in the Commons: "The 2023 Integrated Review Refresh also sets out how the Government will approach the challenges presented by China."
He insisted "we cannot be blind to the increasingly aggressive military and economic behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party, including stoking tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and attempt to strong-arm partners, most recently Lithuania".
Mr Cleverly went on: "We will increase our national security protections and ensure alignment with both our core allies and a wider set of international partners.
"We must build on our own and our allies' resilience to cyber threats, manipulation of information, economic instability and energy shocks so that we remain at the front of the race for technologies like fusion power that will define not only the next decade, but the rest of this century."
The Foreign Secretary told the Commons: "Across the world, state threats have grown and systematic competition has intensified. There is a growing prospect of further deterioration in the coming years."
Making a statement in the Commons on the 2023 Integrated Review (IR) Refresh, Mr Cleverly said the conclusions of the previous review "have run as a golden strategic thread through all of our activities across defence and deterrence, diplomacy, trade and investment, intelligence, security, international development, science and technology over the last two years".
He went on: "Our overall analysis was right and our strategic ambition on track.
"On every continent of the world, the United Kingdom walks taller today than it has done for many years."
However, Mr Cleverly noted: "As this House will, of course, be aware, the severe global turbulence forecast in the 21 Integrated Review has indeed come to pass. But the events have moved at an even quicker pace than I think anyone could have imagined just two years ago.
"Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attempts to annex part of its sovereign territory challenge the entire international order."
Labour has said the extra money promised for defence "can only mean more of the same".
Shadow defence secretary John Healey told the Commons: "Well, of course in 2010, when Labour left government, we were spending 2.5% of GDP on defence, that's a level that's been nowhere near matched in any of the 13 years since."
After pointing out that under Defence Secretary Ben Wallace the Tories cut the Army to 76,000, with more cuts to come, he added: "Now, he admitted to this House last month, the forces have been hollowed out and underfunded with Conservative governments, so will he accept his extra defence funding today can only mean more of the same?"
The Defence Secretary replied: "The thing that we should strive for is that the men and women in the Armed Forces know that their leaders, their political leaders, are prepared to be clear about the past mistakes and talk about the future with some honesty.
"The National Audit Office report made a view of the Labour Party's governing of defence. I have it here because colleagues on that side of the House often forget: 'the department's poor financial management has led to severe funding shortfall of up to £36b in defence spending over the next 10 years'."
After shouts of "it's not true" could be heard coming from the Labour benches, Mr Wallace said: "The National Audit Office is not true? They made it up?"