Boris Johnson has every reason to feel buoyant as he prepares to lead the G7 summit in Cornwall. With one of the world’s most successful vaccine programmes under his belt, the British economy quickly picking up speed and the Conservatives well ahead in the polls, his position will be envied by many of his guests. Although the G7 countries represent only 9.8 per cent of the world’s population, they account for 36 per cent of global trade, 45.2 per cent of global GDP and 50.1 per cent of global military spending.What they say and do matters to the rest of the world. If the pandemic has taught global leaders anything, it is that we live in an inter-dependent world and global problems need to be dealt with on a global basis.
On top of the usual issues of economic and security, leaders will have to focus on climate change and the global pandemic. Despite the warnings of the Sars and Mers outbreaks, the world was woefully unprepared for the pandemic. We need global protocols to guide us in the future, with standardised rules and responses that must be applied if a new threat emerges, which it will.
Yet, we do not even have common ways of measuring our death rates.
The Prime Minister has thought a great deal about this. It is time to share his ideas with other leaders. We need also to focus on the global economic recovery.Global trade was shrinking before the pandemic and issues such as global protectionism, especially among the wealthiest countries, must be tackled with a healthy dose of British free trade enthusiasm.The Prime Minister is well placed to do this. There will also be the question of how we reduce the debts of the world’s biggest economies in order to provide greater stability and guard against the emerging threat of inflation.
World leaders need to tell voters they have only been able to deal economically with the pandemic because of sound foundations laid in the past and we need to pay down our current levels of debt to give the next generation the same advantage.They will also want to consider how to introduce concerted measures to stop some global giants avoiding the tax bills the rest of us are expected to pay.
On investment, even as the pandemic struck, the UK moved to the global second top spot, behind the US and ahead of China.
That matters for innovation and jobs. To keep that position, we must remain a low-tax economy with a stable regulatory framework, flexible labour force and high-quality universities. Add the risks posed by Russia, China and Iran to our security, and climate change, to the agenda and there is no shortage of issues where the UK can lead.
It is time to turn the aspiration of global Britain into reality.