Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the new security partnership between Australia, the UK and the US – AUKUS.
I welcome the increased collaboration between our country and our allies Australia and the US, two of our closest security partners. Sharing resources and intelligence with them and enhancing capabilities makes them safer, makes Britain safer, and makes the world safer.
Australia has no intention to acquire nuclear weapons, nor does AUKUS enable that. However, given the sensitivities involved in sharing nuclear technology, it is of course important for AUKUS to be pursued in a way that is consistent with all our international obligations – including under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty – and adheres to relevant International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
More broadly, I believe AUKUS should be matched by stronger efforts to support nuclear non-proliferation arms control and multilateral disarmament. The global non-proliferation architecture has come under increasing strain in recent years with the UK reduced to being a bystander. The UK has a proud record of being a leader of global efforts to promote multilateral disarmament and I believe it is time for the Government to rediscover leadership on this issue.
To protect our security and interests, we also need to look after our broader alliances. NATO remains our most important strategic alliance and I hope the Government will ensure that AUKUS will not see resources redirected from Europe and the high north to the Pacific. It is important that this new trilateral arrangement strengthens rather than weakens the NATO alliance, including our indispensable bilateral relationship with France. The Government should also ensure that AUKUS does not result in a two-tier Five Eyes intelligence-sharing operation with Canada and New Zealand.
Finally, AUKUS clearly brings potential economic opportunities for Britain. We need the well-paid, high-skilled jobs that the defence industry provides in every corner of Britain. I hope the Government will therefore ensure that Britain gets its fair share of any contracts that come out of this new arrangement and that no region or nation of the UK misses out on any new job opportunities.