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Mr Cleverly said the deal for nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarines would strengthen the Australian navy and also bring jobs to its economy.

“That is not directed towards China. That’s about supporting a longstanding friend and ally … and working in conjunction with another longstanding friend, the United States of America.”

He reiterated that the UK wants to engage with China to ensure greater security, peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

However, it will continue working with its allies and partners, such as in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement, which involves the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


Referencing a speech he made last December, Mr Cleverly said that “the centre of gravity in terms of diplomatic and economic power in the world” is moving east and south.

In a speech mapping out his vision for UK Foreign Policy last December, Mr Cleverly said that “Britain will demonstrate our long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific” by joining the Trans-Pacific free trade agreement and also deepening its cooperation with G20 president India.