On 16 March the government set out its plan for a post-Brexit “global Britain” in the so-called “Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy”. One aspect of the review caused consternation even in the Tory press: “Shock plans to increase the country’s nuclear warheads by 40 per cent were met with fury last night... the remarkable move comes more than 50 years after the signing of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty” noted the Daily Mail. Even the Sun asked “And why do we need 80 more nukes... aren’t 180 city-destroying bombs enough?”
TheMail also noted that “In another controversial policy shift the UK could consider using its nuclear arsenal against non-nuclear countries...”
You would have expected the Morning Star to be shouting from the rooftops about this. Yet on the same day (17 March) that the Mail and Sun were expressing their dismay, the paper of “Peace and Socialism” didn’t lead on the story and ran an editorial which noted Boris Johnson’s “conciliatory language” towards China and welcomed the review’s designation of China as a “systemic challenge” (rather than a “threat”, like Russia).
True, the editorial did condemn the “staggering increase in the number of nuclear warheads,” but the emphasis was on denunciation of “those attacking Johnson for going easy on the Chinese”.
Well, there’s a turn-up for the books: the Morning Star apparently more willing to defend Johnson over defence and foreign policy than the Mail and the Sun.
There is an obvious explanation for this: the fact that uncritical subservience to the interests of the Chinese state and ruling class is now the determining consideration for the Communist Party of Britain and its mouthpiece, the Morning Star, when it comes to international matters.
In fact, the Morning Star and CPB now regard doing or saying anything that annoys the Chinese ruling class as contributing to a “new cold war” and to be the way that “left” and “right” is now defined: thus Fiona Edwards of the No Cold War Campaign is quoted approvingly (18 March and again on 20-21st) claiming that Lisa Nandy’s criticisms of Dominic Raab’s stated willingness to trade with China regardless of human rights considerations, “puts Labour to the right of the Tories on this issue.”
A second explanation — less obvious but still quite possible — is the fact that this review was the direct, foreseeable and inevitable result of the hard Brexit that the Johnson government chose to go for, with the scarcely concealed support of the Morning Star. It is noticeable that the review hardly mentions the EU and proclaims a “tilt to the Indo-Pacific” that in reality amounts to little more than Johnsonian post-imperial posturing and an ambiguous attitude to China. This is the consequence of the Brexit that the Morning Star and CPB backed, perhaps making criticism difficult and even embarrassing for them, though the equally pro-Brexit Mail and Sun evidently felt no similar inhibitions.