In a statement to MPs following the G7 summit, UK PM Rishi Sunak asserted that he firmly rejects the notion that Britain's influence is waning or that it is retreating from the global stage. According to a report from the Guardian, Sunak emphasized the UK's significant role in supporting Ukraine, underscoring the country's commitment to international affairs.
Addressing concerns about Britain's influence, Sunak highlighted the UK's clear stance on Ukraine, noting that it has been at the forefront of support for the country. As evidence of this commitment, he mentioned that the UK was the first country in Europe to provide training for Ukrainian troops and to supply them with lethal weapons. Moreover, Sunak emphasized that the UK is second only to the United States in providing military aid to Ukraine.
However, opposition leader Keir Starmer challenged the government's approach during his response to Sunak's statement. Although Starmer expressed support for Ukraine and welcomed the strong show of solidarity for President Zelenskiy at the G7 summit, he urged the government to categorise the Wagner group as terrorists, stressing the need for continued support for Ukraine.
Shifting his focus to China, Starmer criticised the government's perceived lack of attention to the country's increasing aggression. He called for an audit of UK-China relations and urged the UK to collaborate with its allies in addressing this issue. Starmer also highlighted concerns about the government's approach to industry support, particularly in comparison to other countries. He expressed worries about a perceived "managed decline" and called for measures to ensure British manufacturers receive the same advantages as their European counterparts.
Responding to Starmer's comments, Chancellor Sunak clarified that the UK has already sanctioned the Wagner group in its entirety. He reiterated that the government outlined a new approach to China in its updated integrated review, suggesting that Starmer may have missed these developments. Sunak pointed out that other countries are adopting similar approaches, indicating a shared concern regarding China's behavior.
The exchange between Sunak and Starmer highlighted key areas of divergence, particularly regarding Ukraine, China, and industry support. As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how the government will navigate these challenges and uphold its vision for the UK's role on the global stage.