Boris says UK must stay strong as he calls for new drive to fight global terror
BREXIT will not trigger a British retreat from the wider world, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has insisted as he called for a new drive to combat international terrorism.
In a major diplomatic speech, Mr Johnson said that blaming Western military interventions for terror only fuelled the rise of jihadism, which the Foreign Secretary said had the “addictive power of crack cocaine”.
Mr Johnson said that the UK’s position as Nato’s second-biggest contributor, its huge overseas aid budget, and extensive diplomatic reach would ensure it remained engaged globally.
The Foreign Secretary insisted the UK needed to remain a strong international player, saying: “You can make an argument that we got things wrong in the past, but retreat is not the solution.
“A retreat by Britain is exactly the wrong prescription. On the contrary, we need to be more outwardlooking and more engaged.
“Other countries want to see more of the UK, not less. They want to see us more involved. Using our incredible diplomatic strength to try to achieve better outcomes.
“Using the biggest aid budget anywhere in Europe – we are 25% of Europe’s aid spending – that’s not going away. It’s still going to be there.”
Mr Johnson issued a call for unity with Muslims around the world who are “equally determined” to fight Islamist terror.
The Foreign Secretary said the West needed to realise that hundreds of millions of Muslims are on its side in the battle against terrorism.
The address came after Prime Minister Theresa May clashed with US President Donald Trump over his sharing on Twitter of anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right group Britain First.
Strengthening national identities in the Muslim world, empowering women and fostering reform are key to restoring peace and prosperity, Mr Johnson said.
He also rejected claims that wars waged by Britain in the Middle East are to blame for Islamist terrorism at home.
He said: “British foreign policy is not the problem; it is part of the solution.
“And above all, we will win when we understand that ‘we’ means not just us in the West, but the hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who share the same hopes and dreams, who have the same anxieties and goals for their families, who are equally engaged with the world and all its excitements and possibilities, who are equally determined to beat this plague.”
During the general election campaign this year, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn drew links between Britain’s involvement in military interventions overseas and terrorism at home.
But Mr Johnson pointed to nations which have little history of military intervention in the Middle East that have still suffered terrorism inspired by Islamic State, also known as Daesh.
“To assert, as people often do, that the terrorism we see on the streets of Britain and America is some kind of punishment for adventurism and folly in the Middle East is to ignore that these so-called punishments are visited on peoples – Swedes, Belgians, Finns or the Japanese hostages murdered by Daesh – with no such history in the region.”
> Boris Johnson yesterday