The United Kingdom must have security. The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 (NSS & SDSR 2015) sets out how the whole of government will deliver that objective. This Report examines whether the strategy is fit for purpose.
The NSS & SDSR 2015 did not address possible security implications of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. That omission may have been politically expedient, but following the referendum on 23 June 2016, a detailed analysis of any such implications should begin immediately.
The NSS & SDSR 2015 prioritised the pursuit of security through international trade and investment. In so doing, it highlighted economic possibilities and marginalised security risks. That policy has underpinned increased foreign involvement with United Kingdom Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). Foreign ownership of the UK’s CNI may reduce the Government’s control over key technology and investment decisions and raises potential security vulnerabilities.
Cyber is one of four primary security challenges cited by the NSS & SDSR 2015. As the Government prepares its second five-year cyber security strategy and programme, we have identified key cyber security gaps. The partnership between the Government and the private sector on cyber security is not yet productive. And a lack of cyber skills is a barrier to the Government’s goal of creating a vibrant cyber economy that is resilient to fast-changing threats. We welcome the Government’s recent efforts to lead on cyber, while recognising that much more remains to be done.
The armed forces are a key element of the full spectrum response to threats to the UK and its interests. The NSS & SDSR 2015 addressed some of the capability gaps and negative perceptions about the UK’s defence capacity following the SDSR 2010. We are concerned, however, that the armed forces will not be funded to fulfil the wide-ranging tasks described in the NSS & SDSR 2015. In addition, despite the Government’s commitment to NATO’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, the changed economic climate following the UK’s vote to leave the EU may see a real-terms reduction in the defence budget.
8 July 2016