A Letter to the editor of the Financial Times from Dr Karin von Hippel, Director General, RUSI, Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House and Dr Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
In the wake of the EU referendum result, the UK faces stark choices about its international role. There is a danger that the search for a favourable settlement will usher in a lengthy period of more inward-looking politics, with Britain disengaging from playing its global role.
Nothing could be further from the national interest. Many of the greatest challenges facing the UK – from migration to climate change, terrorism and financial instability – require constructive engagement with our European and global partners. This is as true for security, with threats posed by Russia, unresolved disputes in the South China Sea, mass displacement in Syria, or the rise of Islamic extremism in sub-Saharan Africa, as it is for international development. Helping lead the responses to these challenges, including combatting poverty and keeping our aid promise to the world’s poorest people, is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart strategy for building the peace, security and shared prosperity from which UK citizens will benefit.
The UK is by instinct and interest an outward-looking country. Investments in diplomacy, defence and development enable us to protect our national security and promote our international objectives. As part of an increasingly interdependent and globalised world we erode these investments at our peril. The immediate priority is, of course, to negotiate a new deal with the EU, and then to strike new trade deals. The risk however, is that this will come at the expense of Britain’s broader international relations. Instead, political leaders must unite now behind a vision of Britain as an engaged, outward looking country contributing its part to building a more secure world. Our institutions will certainly be working to this end.
Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House
Dr Karin von Hippel, Director General, RUSI
Dr Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Dr Karin von Hippel