Boris Johnson warns of ‘brutal’ era and ‘strong man cult’

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech at Chatham House, London. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech at Chatham House, London. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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Boris Johnson warns the world risks slipping back into a “brutal” era where strong men dominate and democracy is in retreat.

In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson insists the UK must retain a leadership role in world affairs after Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary makes it clear he disagrees with Donald Trump’s campaign stance that America may not come to the defence of some of the Baltic States unless they make a bigger financial contribution to Nato, but is backing the US president-elect’s call for members of the organisation to ease the cost burden on Washington.

Amid fears in some Nato capitals that Mr Trump is preparing to to take a softer line with Vladimir Putin, Mr Johnson is using his address to the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House to say that the West must remain tough with Russia, but be prepared to talk to Moscow.

Mr Johnson says the global liberal order needs to be protected, and points to Libya, where former prime minister David Cameron intervened militarily, as part of an “arc of instability” across the Middle East.

“We are struggling against non-state actors who view the whole concept of a global liberal order with contempt and it is precisely because of the intensity of these challenges that we need to redouble our resolve and to defend and preserve the best of the rules-based international order.

“If we fail, then we risk reverting to an older and more brutal system where the strong are free to devour the weak where might is always right and the rules and institutions we have so painstakingly built fade away into irrelevance. We cannot allow this to happen.

“We have to acknowledge that in many respects the world is not in good shape. We have the cult of the strong man, we have democracy in retreat, we have an arc of instability across the Middle East from Iraq to Syria to Libya. What is the answer of the UK, is it to cower and put the pillow over our heads? Emphatically not.”

The Foreign Secretary explicitly commits Britain to the concept of collective Nato defence and says he believe the UK’s special relationship with the US will endure.

The Foreign Secretary says the UK’s special relationship with the US will endure.

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