As the UK government undertakes its Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development to re-examine the UK’s priorities and objectives, this paper argues that one of the UK’s great strengths remains underexploited. As one of the largest economies and, importantly, most central financial hubs in the world, the UK is well positioned to capitalise on these advantages, to contribute further across the fields of foreign policy, defence and security.
Today, the UK finds itself at a crucial juncture: some argue that Brexit will lead to the inevitable diminution of the UK’s global influence; the UK government is seeking to develop wide-ranging trade agreements and overseas business opportunities; and hostile foreign powers are seeking to better the UK at home and abroad via covert and overt financial means. Effectively exploiting the country’s financial tools and capabilities to combat illicit finance and identify hostile financial activity will be central to addressing these challenges. This paper therefore argues that the inclusion of finance-based tools in the national security strategy that leverage the UK’s economic strength, central role in global finance and considerable financial prowess should be a central theme of the upcoming review.