As the UK prepares to leave the EU one of our new Government’s priorities is to strengthen our role in international affairs. Fittingly, the first debate on the Queens Speech in Parliament this week was named ‘Britain in the World’ and was particularly timely in view of the current volatile political situation in the Middle East.
A stark demonstration of the danger to life there was the shooting down of civilian flight PS752 by the Iranian regime last week, allegedly mistaken for a cruise missile. All 176 people on board perished including Iranians, Canadians, Ukrainians, Afghans, Germans and yes, Britons, one of whom was based in Dartford. The episode serves as the most awful of reminders that the instability in this region directly concerns people the world over; including all of us here in Kent.
This, alongside the fallout from the death of General Soleimani, is an early test of how a post Brexit Britain will exert a positive influence on the international stage. It is early days, but already we have demonstrated that whilst we are leaving the EU we will continue to stand foursquare with our European allies, when it comes to our security. Alongside France and Germany, we have rightly reaffirmed our commitment to the Iran nuclear deal as the best way of ensuring that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.
The Foreign Secretary was also in Washington last week, steadfast in our support for the United States as our closest ally. We respect their right to self-defence, but I know Dominic Raab also discussed how important it was to de-escalate the situation in Iraq and Iran.
Tensions in the middle east are multi-faceted, complex and decades in the making. I believe the only way to bring about sustainable stability in the region is through diplomacy and I am proud that the UK is already leading the way in that regard.