Boris says UK must stay strong as he calls for new drive to fight global ter­ror

Western Mail - - NEWS - Shaun Con­nolly news­desk@waleson­

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

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