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Opinion Dominic Raab: As the U.K. enters a new chapter, we reaffirm our commitment to be a global force for good

A pedestrian carries a Union-flag themed umbrella near Big Ben and Parliament in central London in 2016 shortly after the Brexit vote. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
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Dominic Raab is the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth and development affairs and first secretary of state.

The United Kingdom and the European Union have reached a historic new deal, establishing a relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation between sovereign equals. This is good news for Britain, our E.U. partners and the United States, including for U.S. businesses in the U.K. such as 3M, GE and Hewlett-Packard. The deal provides stability and continuity, and it reaffirms that the U.K. is one of the best places in the world to do business.

This zero-tariff, zero-quota deal is not just good for international business. Above all, it respects the democratic mandate from the 2016 referendum by ensuring the U.K. takes back control of our laws, money, immigration policy, fisheries and right to forge trade deals around the world, as any independent, self-respecting democracy would expect to.

It is good for the whole United Kingdom too. With the E.U.-U.K. Joint Committee agreement reached this month, the deal makes sure that Northern Ireland’s place within the U.K. and its economic future are protected in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement. We have been clear from Day 1 that there would be no hard border in any circumstances, and the deal we have negotiated gives the people of Northern Ireland a greater say. We know how important that is to our U.S. friends.

Beyond the small print of the negotiated text, the deal heralds a new era for a reinvigorated Global Britain as a confident, independent nation and an energetic force for good in the world. We will champion free and fair trade by striking bilateral deals, developing our regional ties (especially among the growth markets of the future in the Indo-Pacific region, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership) and at the global level by pursuing meaningful reform in the World Trade Organization.

We also believe this truly Global Britain will play an even stronger force in tackling crises like covid-19, helping the international economic recovery stemming from the pandemic, stopping catastrophic climate change, addressing emerging security threats, standing up for our values, and holding China to its international commitments and promises. As for the United States, you will find us an even more dependable ally and friend in these joint endeavors.

Our energized ambition will be on display as we assume the presidency of the Group of Seven in 2021. But we have already started offering global solutions to a global pandemic. We are already administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is progressing well. We have committed over £500 million (about $668 million) to rolling out vaccines across the poorest countries in the world, and we were proud to host the Global Vaccine Summit in June, raising $8.8 billion to support the routine vaccination of hundreds of millions of children in lower-income countries.

Next we will host the U.N. global climate change conference in November 2021. The U.K. was the first major economy to introduce legislation to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Now we are pressing governments around the world to match that level of ambition. We hugely welcome President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to recommit to the Paris Agreement and achieve a “carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.” This is a game changer, and we are thoroughly looking forward to working with the United States to build momentum in the months ahead.

On security, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the biggest program of investment in British defense since the end of the Cold War — an increase of more than £24 billion (approximately $32 billion) over the next four years, exceeding our NATO pledge, investing to restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe and creating new capabilities, including a center dedicated to artificial intelligence. The threats from our adversaries are evolving. We have to be fully equipped, alongside our NATO allies, with the cutting-edge tools to respond.

On human rights, we have already followed U.S. legislation by enacting Magnitsky-style sanctions — the bipartisan brainchild of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) — that allow us to sanction the perpetrators of the worst human rights abuses around the world. This month, we announced a new round of targeted asset freezes and visa bans on political leaders and special forces in Russia, and on military and police commanders in Venezuela. We will always look to coordinate our approach with like-minded allies to maximize our impact.

These are the values and interests that underpin Global Britain as we look forward to the next chapter in our history. We will be resolute in defending open societies, promoting global trade and standing up for those values we have always championed side-by-side with our friends in the United States.


Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this column mistakenly referred to Northern Ireland's place within the European Union. The correct reference was to the United Kingdom.

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