It’s time to embrace a global strategy for British prosperity through global aid, trade and security, based on taking our science and innovation into the fastest-emerging markets to drive sustainable growth. Brexit offers the opportunity for Britain to cement its position as a global leader in science and put innovation right at the heart of a national strategy for post-Brexit success. We have the opportunity to make the UK a crucible for innovative products that will be key to sustainable development abroad.
Public investment in aid-related R&D can be a win-win, boosting global security and prosperity while providing the seed capital for more innovation at home. But we will only unlock this win-win if the public and private sector work together to find out where additional funding can be most effective and to remove current obstacles to investment. We should identify the biggest challenges facing the world, from fighting antimicrobial resistance to delivering better battery technology, and offer support to those British scientists and businesses who think they know how to help.
It’s time to embrace a global plan for British prosperity through foreign aid, trade and security, based on taking our innovative products into the fastest-emerging markets to drive sustainable growth.
I was elected to Parliament in May 2010 after a 15-year career in and around the Cambridge cluster supporting high growth businesses. Consequently, I have written and spoken widely on the potential of Britain's science and innovation economy to support a sustainable economic recovery, unlocking huge trade and inward investment opportunities in fast emerging global markets.
One of my first jobs in government was as Trade Envoy to the Philippines - the trade delegation I have brought with me to the islands represented some of the best of UK capability in the oil and gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. I was proud to be part of the effort to sell our goods to global markets and show that this Government is backing British business.
I have been fortunate enough to visit Lebanon twice since I was elected to Parliament, seeing first-hand the work being carried out by the Department for International Development, Save the Children and the Gates Foundation to help Syrian refugees. UK aid has helped transform hundreds of thousands of lives. In 2017, 149,000 children have already been supported to gain a decent education and 312,000 people now have sustainable access to clean water and/or sanitation.
Now we have left 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.
Fundamentally, I believe that British foreign policy should be based on the three pillars of trade, aid and security. Using the UK’s great strength as a leading knowledge economy, we can help export our skills and services and change the world around us for the better; providing security and economic opportunity for emerging markets around the world.
Links to coverage of my work in this space:
Daily Telegraph 05.11.17 “Let's make science funding part of the aid budget – and help British tech save the world.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/05/make-science-funding-part-aid-budget-help-british-tech-save/
Bright Blue 19.12.17 “The need for a new foreign policy based on aid, trade and security.” https://www.brightblue.org.uk/http-www-brightblue-org-uk-index-php-centrewrite-item-795-george-freeman-aid/
The New Statesman “The Conservative Case for Overseas Aid” https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/05/there-conservative-case-overseas-aid-we-should-make-it
House of Commons “Opportunity for Regulatory Freedom” https://www.georgefreeman.co.uk/parliament/george-freeman-calls-government-take-opportunity-regulatory-freedom-post-brexit-better