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Coronavirus pauses major defence and security review

Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood welcomed the delay while Whitehall focuses on tackling Covid-19.

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The review is now not expected to start until 2021 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The review is now not expected to start until 2021 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The review is now not expected to start until 2021 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A major review of British defence, security and foreign policy has been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cabinet Office has said.

The bulk of the Integrated Review, which is regarded as the biggest assessment of the country’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, was due to be completed later this year, with recommendations implemented over several years.

It is now not expected to start until 2021.

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, welcomed the delay, saying there would be no point conducting the review when Whitehall is focusing on tackling Covid-19.

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Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood welcomed the delay (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood welcomed the delay (Gareth Fuller/PA)

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Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood welcomed the delay (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Ellwood said: “We welcome this delay of the Integrated Review. There would be no point in conducting an in-depth review of the nation’s defence and security challenges to an artificial deadline, especially at a time when Whitehall is rightly focusing on tackling coronavirus.

“We look forward to engaging with the department when the review restarts, with the added element of the consequences of the pandemic to be considered.

“We will still report in due course on the committee’s inquiry into how Government should conduct the review and hope that this work will inform the process in the future.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Following the Chancellor’s announcement that the Comprehensive Spending Review is being postponed, it is right that we have also paused the Integrated Review.

“The pressing need is to focus on the response to the coronavirus pandemic – protecting the public, the NHS and saving lives.”

PA