Lisa Nandy is set to outline a vision of how patriotism can help Britain to “rediscover a confident, outward-looking approach to the world” and Labour would put “the British people and our shared values back at the heart of foreign policy”.
In her first major speech as Shadow Foreign Secretary, the Wigan MP and former leadership candidate will say foreign policy should be rooted in the “strength of our communities, the dignity of our workforce and the security of our nation”.
“For too long, foreign policy has been the preserve of the political classes – formulated and implemented without the consideration or consent of the British people,” Nandy will declare to a Chatham House webinar on Wednesday.
She will make the case that there is a “growing disconnect between the objectives we pursue abroad and the impacts they have on communities here”, citing local football clubs that are “put at risk by financiers on the other side of the world”.
“The world beyond our shores, and our ability to mould and shape it, affects the lives of people at home to an extraordinary degree,” Nandy will add. “The challenges we face today demand more than empty slogans.”
The Shadow Foreign Secretary will criticise successive governments for adopting a foreign policy approach that “fails to recognise the deep discontent in villages, towns and cities across the country”, leaving Britain “more adrift than ever”.
Promising to defend national security and protect prosperity, she will say: “Labour will rebuild Britain’s reputation as a reliable international partner, match the ambition of the British people and safeguard our national interests both at home and abroad.”
Nandy will use the speech to argue that the impact of foreign policy is closer to people’s lives and communities than often thought, and this should be recognised. “Visit any town in the UK and you see the effects of foreign policy writ large.
“The man in my surgery shocked to his core at being cheated out of his life savings by an organised crime gang whose tentacles stretch across the globe.
“The football fans who fought for a year to save their loved local club after it was thrown away for a gambling debt by financiers on the other side of the world.
“The steel workers who stand to lose their jobs because the get rich quick activities of a financial whiz kid with unfettered access to government created a worldwide bubble that eventually burst.
“The world beyond our shores, and our ability to mould and shape it, affects the lives of people at home to an extraordinary degree.”
She will lay out Labour’s key foreign policy priorities as being based on Britain’s “proud history of internationalism”, and say the party wants to examine the disconnect between decision-makers and those affected by British foreign policy.
Attacking the Tory government’s approach as being “divorced from from Britain’s foreign policy needs”, with “empty slogans”, Nandy will vow that Labour would put “domestic support” at the core of its international priorities.
The “gulf” between the UK’s foreign policy and domestic policy represents a direct threat to its security and prosperity, she is set to say, and this has “cost us the support and consent of the British people for our activities overseas”.
“And those choices, divorced from the everyday lives of the British public have caused nothing short of devastation for so many, writing off too many people and their communities in every nation and region of the UK. It doesn’t have to be like this.”
Nandy is preparing to publish her first book, Where Next? Finding Our Place in a World Falling Apart, in which she will explore many of the same themes as her Chatham House speech, such as ensuring Britain is a “self-confident, united, outward-looking” country.
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