20th December 2017

Writing for the think tank Bright Blue, I set out this week how my recent visit to Lebanon has helped shape my view of the role the UK can play in the world after Brexit.

I travelled to the country last month to visit UK aid funded programmes assisting refugees, and to meet British security contractors helping to secure the border with Syria.

I wrote “As we leave the EU, I believe we must seriously up our game at building comprehensive partnerships with strategically important countries, like Lebanon, where so much of our wider insecurity will be shaped in the coming years. Our world-class commitment to aid is a vital part of this cooperation, as is defence and security support, but they must be complemented by building creative trading partnerships that export the best of British and make us the partner of choice for developing economies.”

I believe that British foreign policy should be based on the three pillars of trade, aid and security, and that leaving the EU can give the UK more freedom to build mutually beneficial relationships with middle-income countries like Lebanon.

One in four people in Lebanon is a refugee fleeing the conflict in Syria, and British aid has helped to ensure that the country remains stable, while meeting not only the immediate needs of refugees, but also providing education to the generation of Syrians who hope one day to return to rebuild their country.

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