Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 5 September 2013


Last week's botched vote over Syria raises the thorny question of Britain's role in the world.

There are now plenty of people who think we should step back from the world stage and simply focus on our own affairs. The example of Sweden or Switzerland is often cited. The argument goes that we no longer have an empire, are no longer a global super-power and we cannot afford our current military might that we have the price-tag of the seat at the top table of world affairs.

I know that many of you will agree with that, and it is a respectable view. Ducking out of potential military intervention in Syria has provoked a call to review our place in world affairs.

But I take a different view. We are still the sixth largest economy (although Brazil will soon overtake us), leaders of the Commonwealth, a powerful member of the European Union, a member of G8, and a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
We benefit from a special relationship with the world's remaining Super-Power , the USA (although China is coming). Unlike other former colonial powers we still enjoy respect from our ex-colonies and many other parts of the world. We have a stronger military than most countries, a high reputation for diplomacy and what is often called soft power. Our democratic stability, intrinsic fairness and commitment to human rights are respected around the world. In short, we are good at it.

In taking our seat at the top table I do not consider us to be punching above our weight. I consider us to be playing the historic hand that has been dealt to us. In so doing we are acting in the national interest by helping to make the world a better safer place for our children and grandchildren.

I realise we got it wrong over Iraq. Parliament was misled over weapons of mass destruction. We are all scarred by that event. This does not mean we should simply retire to the corner and let the others get on with it.

There is an unforeseen consequence of limping off to the shadows.  If those who advocate a Sweden-style vision for Britain prevail, we will not have the need for the armed forces we have today. No need for a naval base or dockyard in Devonport. Fewer marines stationed in our midst. Plymouth would become a ghost town.

Be careful what you wish for.

posted by Gary @ 09:22