Photographer: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

U.K. Must Spend More to Boost Post-Brexit Clout, Top Tory Says

  • Tom Tugendhat calls for investment in military, diplomacy
  • Britain must compare itself to 193 countries after Brexit

Britain must invest more in its military and diplomacy to gain influence outside of the European Union after Brexit, a lawmaker touted as a rising star in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said.

Brexit “requires us to make friends elsewhere and make them fast,” the chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, told reporters Monday in London. “That requires an increase in our defense budget, increasing our foreign affairs budget and increasing our intelligence budget.”

The government must spend more before it leaves the EU to ensure the U.K. holds sway in the bloc, Tugendhat said at the Centre for European Reform. The U.K. is “failing” to provide leadership in foreign affairs, he said, pointing to the sale of an iconic embassy in Bangkok and the decline of British troop numbers to “significantly below 82,000.”

“The support of the United Kingdom must matter, and that’s why we must be building up alliances that actually count,” he said. “We have got to maintain the idea for others that being our friend is worth it.”

European foreign policy is going to “increasingly look French” after Brexit, he said, and Britain will have to look beyond Europe in the future.

“We’re comparing ourselves to 193 others and by the way, that means comparing ourselves rather specifically to Singapore’s productivity, to China’s military, to France’s diplomacy,” he said. “That means investment, and it means it now.”

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