Defence secretary outlines UK’s position in a ‘dangerous world’

'A dangerous world' announces Shapps

UK Defence Secretary: Grant Shapps. Credit: grantshapps/

In a powerful speech delivered at Lancaster House, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps set forth his vision for deterring threats, leading among allies, and defending the UK in a world growing increasingly dangerous.

On Monday, January 15, UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps began by emphasizing the shift in the global security landscape. He highlighted how, over the past three decades, the world had witnessed profound changes, especially in the context of East-West relations.

Thirty-five years ago, Margaret Thatcher spoke at Lancaster House, expressing optimism about the East-West changes. Shortly thereafter, the Berlin Wall fell, ushering in a new era of peace and the peace dividend.

However, Shapps stressed that not everyone had embraced this optimism: ‘Yet, not everyone got the memo. In fact our adversaries were mobilising,’ with belligerent autocratic states making a comeback.

The rising threats: Russia, China, and beyond

Shapps highlighted specific threats, such as Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the subsequent invasion of Ukraine.

‘And as Russia continues its illegal campaign in Ukraine, China is assessing whether the West loses its patience.

‘Today, Russia and China have been joined by new nuclear, and soon to be nuclear, powers,’ such as North Korea and Iran.

These new powers, Shapps noted, were less stable and more irrational, challenging the traditional strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Increasing interconnectedness of adversaries

The Defence Secretary pointed out that adversaries were becoming more connected to each other. For instance, Iranian proxies caused havoc across the Middle East. Russia and China formed a ‘no limits partnership,’ conducting joint exercises.

President Putin relied on Iranian drones and North Korean ballistic missiles in the illegal bombardment of Ukraine. This interconnectedness has only amplified global instability. ‘With friends like these, the world is becoming more dangerous and has done in recent years,’ Shapps noted.

Terrorism and cyber warfare

While facing these new challenges, Shapps did not forget the ongoing threats of terrorism and non-state actors.

He referenced recent terror attacks in London, attempted assassinations in Salisbury, cyber breaches affecting nearly a third of UK businesses, and the economic impact of cyber warfare which runs into billions. He also noted how mass migration could be cynically used as a weapon of war.

Preparing for a dangerous world

Shapps commended the UK’s efforts over the last decade to enhance its defence capabilities. He emphasized increased defence spending, modernisation of the armed forces, and the creation of a national cyber force.

The UK had shown its commitment by supporting Ukraine and taking action against global threats like Daesh. It also played a significant role in maintaining regional stability and protecting freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

Shapps highlighted the UK’s substantial defence budget, surpassing £50 billion a year, and expressed the aspiration to reach 2.5 per cent of GDP spent on defence.

He urged other allied and democratic nations to increase their defence spending as well, stressing that the era of the peace dividend was over.

Leading NATO and global partnerships

Shapps emphasized the importance of alliances, particularly NATO. The UK had committed nearly all its air, land, and maritime assets to NATO and was determined to do even more.

He announced that the UK would send 20,000 personnel to lead Exercise Steadfast Defender, one of NATO’s largest deployments since the Cold War.

This deployment would involve the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force, showcasing the UK’s commitment to collective defence.

The Defence Secretary urged the UK’s industry to become more resilient and contribute to national defence by harnessing its innovation and creativity.

He highlighted the UK’s rich history of pioneering technologies and suggested that the defence sector could benefit significantly from this legacy.

UK-Ukraine Security Cooperation

Shapps celebrated the historic UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation, marking the beginning of a century-long alliance. The UK pledged increased military support, bringing total military aid to over £7 billion.

This support would include the production and procurement of thousands of drones, enhancing both Ukraine’s capabilities and the UK’s unmanned vehicle capabilities.

The Defence Secretary highlighted the significance of drone technology in modern defence. The UK’s commitment to providing drones to Ukraine showcased the importance of this emerging technology in warfare.

Shoring up global stability

Shapps reiterated the UK’s commitment to global stability by participating in international operations. He mentioned the UK’s involvement in evacuating British citizens from Sudan, protecting Guyana’s territorial integrity, and participating in operations to safeguard freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Defence Secretary called on the UK and its allies to prepare for a world that was becoming increasingly dangerous. He stressed the need to deter threats, lead among allies, and defend the nation.

He reminded the audience that Britain had faced down threats before and could do so again, emphasising the importance of unity and preparedness in navigating the challenges of the modern world.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.