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It’s a pity UK no longer as involved in world affairs, former MI6 boss says

Sir John Sawers was speaking on the day Theresa May delivers her vision for ensuring the UK’s security following Brexit at an address in Germany.

The UK’s engagement in world affairs has diminished following the fallout of the Afghan and Iraq wars, one of the country’s former spymasters has said.

Sir John Sawers, the ex-chief of MI6, said it was “a pity” that the country was no longer at the forefront of tackling international issues, adopting a more “cautious” approach to interventions.

Sir John was speaking on the day Theresa May delivers her vision for ensuring the UK’s security following Brexit at an address in Germany.

We need to make sure that Western values and Western interests are upheld in this rapidly changing world where the West is less dominant in an economic sphere Sir John Sawers

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former diplomat said: “I do think the UK has sort of stepped back a bit from engagement in the world.

“We were very active between 1980 and 2010, but I think the combined effect of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts and the effect of the financial crash has made us more cautious about engagement in the world, and I think that’s a great pity.

“There are real serious problems that we have to deal with – not just terrorism and cyber, which are perhaps the most obvious – but instability across the Middle East, how we forge a new global relationship between what is increasingly a great power world where America, Russia, China and Europe are going to be the major players in the world.

“We need to make sure that Western values and Western interests are upheld in this rapidly changing world where the West is less dominant in an economic sphere.”

In 2016, the Sir John Chilcot report found that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat” at the time of the invasion of his country in 2003, and the war was unleashed on the basis of “flawed” intelligence.

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