UK government to review international departments

27 Feb 20

The UK government’s international departments are set for a shake-up, after prime minister Boris Johnson launched a review into how the country can face its “global opportunities and challenges” after leaving the European Union.


Johnson has previously said he would like to see the Department for International Development absorbed into the Foreign Office, and the review will look at ways to reform “government systems and structures”.

This follows a report in The Telegraph earlier this month that claimed the two departments will be merged in the autumn.

The review will also consider the roles of the armed forces and security services.

Romilly Greenhill, UK director of aid-focused campaign group ONE, said the review being so comprehensive in its treatment of all foreign policy departments was a “positive sign”.

“But the sad truth is that too often these reviews simply ending up preparing us for the last war or crisis we faced,” she said.

“At best they might make us slightly better prepared for the next crisis but they rarely, if ever, ask the truly important question of how to avoid these crises in the first place.”

Romilly said Johnson must “look hard at the biggest issues facing the world” if he is to fully “relaunch the UK on the world stage”, pointing to inequality, entrenched poverty, complex global health threats, mass migration and the climate crisis.

The review will include experts from inside and outside of the government, which the prime minister’s office said would provide “constructive challenge to traditional [civil service] assumptions and thinking.”

Johnson praised the UK’s institutions as “renowned around the world”, but added that the country “cannot rest on [its] laurels”.

“We must do more to adapt. We will be judged by how we respond to the opportunities ahead,” he said.

“As the world changes we must move with it, harnessing new technologies and ways of thinking to ensure British foreign policy is rooted firmly in our national interests, now and in the decades ahead.”

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