The Week in Westminster: Foreign Policy

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the armed forces should be ‘very proud’ of their role in Libya and that the UK was ‘punching at our weight or even above our weight’ internationally. He supported this by stating that ‘I really want to challenge this idea that somehow the Americans see us a weak ally, they don’t – they see us as their strongest and most staunch ally.’

His comments came as the MoD began the first wave of redundancies in the wake of the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review last year, as the three branches of the armed forces take steps to reduce their strength by 17,000 personnel in total by 2015. The Army and the RAF are believed to be making 920 and 930 people redundant respectively, around half of whom have agreed to voluntary redundancy. The Navy will begin a similar process later this month.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was pictured carrying a briefing document which stated that the British Government would welcome the departure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai when his second term ends in 2014. The note, which Mitchell was carrying as he left a meeting of the National Security Council, suggested that the Government thought a new President would improve the country’s prospects ‘very significantly’. While the manner of the revelation is embarrassing for Mitchell, it has long been clear that the UK and the US have been underwhelmed by Karzai and would likely welcome a new President.

There has been some controversy surrounding a £618m trading contract awarded to Vitoil, which allowed the firm to bypass sanctions on the sale of oil and deal with the Libyan rebels. The deal was brokered by a small team based in the Foreign Office called the ‘Libyan Oil Cell’, which included Alan Duncan MP – the Minister of State for International Development – who was formerly an oil trader and a Director at one of Vitoil’s subsidiaries.

For more information on any of these issues, or to find out more about our services, please contact Rory Fletcher on 020 7839 2140 or email him at rory@keenepa.co.uk.

Jake Rigg

Jake Rigg

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement.

He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
Jake Rigg

About the Author

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement. He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.