Lloyd Russell-Moyle: Labour’s foreign policy will protect the many from the few

Lloyd Russell-Moyle
©️ Chris McAndrew/CC BY 3.0

Almost all media bandwidth is recent months has been taken up with Brexit and our benighted Prime Minister’s attempts to not appear completely paralysed by the political events rapidly overtaking her.

While Theresa May commands no power and has singularly failed to show who she is or for what she stands. While she does nothing, her ministers who constitute the most right wing cabinet in several decades  are busy carving out their own agendas.

Paving the way towards a global Britain, Liam Fox at the department for international trade is scaling up of UK sales of arms and sophisticated eavesdropping kit to repressive governments in the Middle East.

He has lavished half of UK export finance on arms deals and has been on a recruitment binge of former executives from the defence sector. Civil servants from the defence and security organisation (DSO), for which Fox is responsible, spent last week chaperoning around delegations from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Turkey and UAE for the latest mass surveillance technology used by autocrats to to hunt down, and in many cases kill, dissidents and political rivals.

Liam Fox issued licences for telephone eavesdropping devices to Honduras’ ruling party, a sister party of the Tories, just before it rigged an election late last year and executed a surveillance-led crackdown following protests, including from the Honduran Alliance Against Dictatorship. At least 40 people have been killed and more than 2,000 detained.

At the Foreign Office, Boris Johnson is doing his best Churchill bit, signalling that he is the right chap to stand up to the Russians and floating the prospect deepening UK involvement in the Syrian civil war by bombing Assad (and presumably the Russian air defences that surround him).

In a less Churchillian moment, he literally ran out of the chamber to avoid a tabled Urgent Question called by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who had been given time to question him on his confusing comments on Irish border arrangements following Brexit.

In the department for international development, Penny Mordant is continuing the work of her disgraced predecessor Priti Patel by farming out more and more of the UK aid budget to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

On Tuesday, the international development committee on which I sit heard evidence from Cambridge University’s Emma Mawdsley, a close monitor of UK aid projects and their developmental impact. She said that the Tories had reduced the impact of the aid budget on poverty reduction and enacted a series of regressive steps on labour rights had translated into the creation by development finance of fewer decent jobs.

Under the government of the living dead, we face the same problems abroad as we do at home. At home and abroad, the Tories employ the rubric of prosperity and security while making most of us less prosperous and less secure.

The Brexit the Tories will take us towards will be one that weakens us internationally and makes life at home nasty, brutish and short.

Labour policies around trade, aid and foreign affairs will ensure that the many are protected from the few.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle is MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven.

@lloyd_rm

This piece was commissioned by guest editor Diane Abbott.

 

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