(Bloomberg) -- Rishi Sunak will argue the UK should plan its foreign policy for the long-term to match the strategies of other world powers such as Russia and China, as the prime minister makes his first major foreign policy speech.
“Our adversaries and competitors plan for the long term,” Sunak will say in London on Monday evening, according to his office. “In the face of these challenges, ‘short-termism’ or wishful thinking will not suffice. So we will make an evolutionary leap in our approach. This means being stronger in defending our values and the openness on which our prosperity depends.”
Whereas his predecessors in Downing Street Liz Truss and Boris Johnson were both former foreign secretaries, meaning the world knew where they stood on issues when they took the top job, Sunak rose through Treasury ranks. Since taking office he has sought meetings on the world stage both at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt and at the G-20 meeting of industrialized nations in Indonesia, even while juggling the domestic economic fallout of Truss’s time in office.
In power for just five weeks, Sunak has softened the UK’s approach to China, backing away from Truss’s plan to label the Asian country a “threat” to Britain.
The premier had planned to meet with President Xi Jinping in Bali during the G-20 meeting a fortnight ago, but the schedule was derailed and the two leaders didn’t have time. According to Sunak’s office, the meeting would have given him a chance to discuss how to work together on areas of common concern, while raising objections about Beijing’s human rights record.
Another indication of Sunak’s position may come in the next few weeks when his foreign policy special adviser, John Bew, updates the Johnson-era integrated security, defense and foreign policy review from 2021.
Bew, an academic, was appointed by Johnson and has stayed in the post since. While the UK periodically reviews its foreign policy objectives, its five-year electoral cycle means funding is often affected by a changing economic outlook and differing priorities.
In his speech on Monday, Sunak will argue for a foreign policy underpinned by economic security at home, even as the country debates its future defense spending.
According to his office, he will stress the importance of reinvigorating relationships in Europe while also deepening ties in the Indo-Pacific. The premier will also, once again, commit Britain to supporting Ukraine.
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