Tobias Ellwood, MP and Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, has called on the UK Government to postpone the Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Calling for the review to be delayed, Ellwood told Army Technology: “Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, I am calling on the government to, therefore, delay the Integrated Review, so that not only can the Government give it the detail it requires when the time is right, but so that Parliament can also properly scrutinise the review process, such as through the planned work of the Defence Committee.”
Ellwood said that Britain “faces an increasingly unpredictable world, where new threats are emerging every day,” but for the review to be completed properly, it would need to undergo proper scrutiny.
Ellwood added: “The Integrated Review has come at a pivotal moment and it is vital that it is conducted in an environment where due attention and proper scrutiny can be given.”
There is an uncertainty that Parliament will sit over the coming months as the UK tackles the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic that has led the government to ask people to work from home wherever possible.
In Parliament yesterday, Ellwood raised the prospect of delaying the review. In response, Defence Minister Jeremy Quinn said: “The integrated review is important; it is important that we get on to it and move on with it at pace. We need to take firm decisions and the swifter the better.
“However, as ever, we are mindful of events, and such things will obviously be taken into consideration if they need to be.”
Parliament today announced that all non-essential visitor access was being suspended and that MPs, Peers, Parliamentary staff and other members of the Parliamentary community where being asked to work from home where possible.
The review is set to look at the UK’s place in the world and look into all aspects of defence and foreign policy. A core topic of the review is set to be a deep look into the Ministry of Defence’s procurement process which has been criticised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top advisor Dominic Cummings.
The review formally launched in February, includes a push to look at how the UK can better leverage technology and data ‘to adjust to the changing nature of threats’. The Prime Minister’s Office at the time added: “All this will be undertaken with the aim of creating a more coherent and strategic approach to our overseas activity.”