By Francesca James

In a keynote speech at the Foreign Office in London, William Hague has outlined Coalition plans for a “clear, focused and effective” foreign policy.

He criticised the previous Labour Government for neglecting to lift its eyes to the wider strategic needs of this county and failing to secure our influence in a rapidly changing world.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary set out five key areas for pursuing a distinctive British foreign policy:

Establishing a National Security Council and launching a Strategic Defence & Security Review

Bringing together all of the Departments of Government in the pursuit of national objectives

Using our national strengths and advantages to build strong bilateral relationships for the UK. They include our world-class education system, the standing of our Armed Forces and quality of our Intelligence Services and GCHQ, which are unique and of inestimable value

Encouraging the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to be more ambitious in articulating and leading Britain’s efforts overseas

Giving due weight to Britain’s membership of the European Union and other multilateral institutions, including NATO, the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

Concluding the speech, William said: “We are now raising our sights for the longer term, looking at the promotion of British interests in the widest sense.”

And he added, “Although the next twenty years is likely to be a time of increased danger in foreign affairs, it is also a time of extraordinary opportunity for a country that sets out to make the most of its still great advantages.”

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