Trident, aid and spies: key points in UK's integrated review

The foreign and defence review outlines changes in nuclear policy and a desire for an Indo-Pacific tilt

Key points in the integrated review

Nuclear weapons

Trident: Cap on the nuclear warhead stockpile to increase for first time since the end of the cold war, to 260, ending a previous target of reducing it to 180 by the mid-2020s.

Deployable missiles: The UK will no longer declare how many deployable warheads it has, in a new policy of deliberate ambiguity. Previously it had said this figure was 120.

Nuclear strikes: Britain reserves the right to use Trident against new “emerging technologies” as well as chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.

Allies, challengers and threats

China: Describes China as a “systemic competitor” – not a hostile state. Its “increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s”.

Russia: The “most acute threat to our security”. Until relations with its government improve UK will “actively deter and defend against” a “full spectrum of threats”.

European Union: Barely mentioned, beyond an acknowledgment of its contribution to peace in Europe. Instead emphasises “security partnership” with France and describes Germany as an “essential ally” in diplomatic field.

US: Remains “the UK’s most important strategic ally”. Continued cooperation across “full spectrum of defence, intelligence, cyber power, counter-terrorism and nuclear”.

Indo-Pacific tilt: After Brexit, UK will establish “a greater and more persistent presence than any other European country” in the region. Aims to join CPTPP trade bloc of Pacific rim nations.

Overseas aid

Spending pledge: Promise to return to budget of 0.7% of GDP, as per manifesto commitment “when the fiscal situation allows” in foreword from Boris Johnson.

Long-term strategy: Suggestion that grant model will be unwound “as governments become able to finance their own development priorities, we will gradually move towards providing UK expertise in place of grants”.

Terror and espionage

Dirty bomb: Concludes that it is “likely that a terrorist group will launch a successful CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear] attack by 2030”.

Espionage bill: New legislation to deal with spying threat from Russia, China and elsewhere to help tackle modern threats such as disinformation.

Operations centre: Counter-terror police, MI5 and specialist prosecutors will co-locate in central London to pool expertise, as announced in the autumn spending review.

Situation room: New £9.3m hi-tech suite under the Cabinet Office to ensure real-time monitoring of terror and other crisis threats.


Magnitsky-plus: New sanctions regime to be launched later this year, focused on corruption, preventing those accused from entering the UK or channelling money through the City of London.

Citizens’ army: Floats idea of creating a “civilian reservist cadre for support in times of crisis” to work alongside army and reserves in future pandemic-like events.

Soft power superpower: Recognition that cultural institutions contribute to the UK’s international standing, including the BBC – “the most trusted broadcaster worldwide” – and the monarchy.


Dan Sabbagh

The GuardianTramp

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