Conservative Party Manifesto 2017

The Conservative Party launched their manifesto on 18 May 2017. You can read it in full here

A Strong and United Nation in a Changing World (page 29)

Global Britain (page 37 & 38)

The United Kingdom is a global nation. Our history is a global history; our future must be global too. We believe Britain should play an active, leading role in the world. Not because it is our right or inheritance, but because our leadership in the world is the surest way to defend and advance the interests of the British people, and to extend around the world those values that we believe to be right.

The United Kingdom is already a global power. We have a leading diplomatic service and one of the largest overseas development budgets in the world. Our armed forces are respected around the world and enable us to project power globally. Our global businesses and London’s position as the global centre of finance make us more interconnected with the global economy than any other comparable nation. 

Britain is already a significant influence for good around the world. Our aid is giving millions an education and an opportunity to rise out of poverty. Our naval vessels are stopping the vile trade in people and in drugs. We are at the forefront of action against global climate change.

We can and should do more, not just because acting as a force for good is an important end in itself but because the result will be greater peace and prosperity for the British people. We will continue to champion British values around the globe: freedom, democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. We will be the world’s foremost champion of free trade. We will expand our global efforts to combat extremism, terror, and the perpetration of violence against people because of their faith, gender or sexuality. We will continue to lead international action against climate change, and the degradation of habitat and loss of species. We will continue to lead a global campaign for the education of women and girls, which is the key to progress in so many countries. We will lead the fight against modern slavery, just as we overcame the trade in slaves two hundred years ago. We will lead a global effort to close down online spaces for those who abuse children, incite violence or propagate hate speech. We shall lead the world in the hard work to end extreme child poverty and co-ordinate efforts against microbial resistance and emerging tropical diseases. And we will take up leadership in a new arena, where concern is shared around the world: we will be the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet.

British leadership in international institutions (page 39) 

The security and prosperity of the United Kingdom is built on the international institutions that we helped to found and will continue to help maintain: the United Nations and the UN Security Council, NATO – the cornerstone of our defence, the Commonwealth, the G20, G7 and the World Trade Organization. We will continue to give strong support to an international order in which rules govern state conduct; in our own behaviour we will support this system and apply it in a principled way. We shall continue to seek to reform multilateral institutions, especially in the way they distribute development funds, so that money is used to greatest effect to protect and help the world’s most vulnerable people.

Global partnerships and alliances (page 39)

Alongside our proposed deep and special partnership with the European Union, we will maintain the historical, cultural and economic ties that link us to our old friends and allies around the globe. We will build upon our existing special relationship with the United States, and forge new economic and security partnerships that make us more prosperous at home and more secure abroad. We will strengthen our close links with our Commonwealth allies, continuing our mission together to promote democratic values around the world and build on our existing economic relationships to further our common trading interests. We will develop alliances and co-operate more with old friends and new partners.

Leading the world in development (page 39)

British aid helps millions and is a powerful statement of Global Britain’s place in the world. It protects our interests: by building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world, we can protect our own people from disease, conflict and instability. This is the right ambition for a country with a global outlook, so we will maintain the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on assistance to developing nations and international emergencies. We will continue to use our aid budget in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals, to end extreme poverty, save children’s lives, and provide an education for girls. We will work to end the subjugation and mutilation of women, to combat the brutal slave trade in fellow human beings and to prevent catastrophic environmental degradation. And we will continue to lead global efforts to tackle sexual violence in conflict. British scientists and inventors have helped to address some of the greatest challenges facing the world’s poorest people. A global Britain should aspire to do even more: we will significantly increase our funding of UK-led medical and technical research into the biggest threats to global health and prosperity. There are still ways that we can improve the way that taxpayers’ money is used to help the world’s most vulnerable people. We do not believe that international definitions of development assistance always help in determining how money should be spent, on whom and for what purpose. So we will work with like-minded countries to change the rules so that they are updated and better reflect the breadth of our assistance around the world. If that does not work, we will change the law to allow us to use a better definition of development spending, while continuing to meet our 0.7 per cent target.

Reforming asylum (page 40) 

We will ensure Britain remains a place of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers. The existing system, however, is geared towards people who are young enough, fit enough, and have the resources to get to Britain, rather than those who are most in need of our help. Wherever possible, the government will offer asylum and refuge to people in parts of the world affected by conflict and oppression, rather than to those who have made it to Britain. We will work to reduce asylum claims made in Britain and, as we do so, increase the number of people we help in the most troubled regions. We will continue to work with other countries in Europe, and the United Nations, to review the international legal definitions of asylum and refugee status. We will make sure our councils get the help they need to deal with people as they arrive, and establish schemes to help individuals, charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to provide housing and other support for refugees.

Strong Defence in an Uncertain World (page 41)

Our world is full of opportunity but is also riven by conflict, terrorism and threat. As a global power, we have a responsibility to sustain our fine armed forces so that they can defend the realm, our overseas territories and our interests around the globe. We will play a leading role in NATO and maintain the ability to conduct strike operations, peacekeeping, security missions and the deployment of a joint expeditionary force. We will maintain the overall size of the armed forces, including an army that is capable of fielding a war-fighting division. We shall expand our reach around the world. We will retain the Trident continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our security. We have the biggest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in NATO. We will continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence and we will increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation in every year of the new parliament.

A Country that comes Together

Controlling Immigration (page 54 & 55)

Britain is an open economy and a welcoming society and we will always ensure that our British businesses can recruit the brightest and best from around the world and Britain’s world-class universities can attract international students. We also believe that immigration should be controlled and reduced, because when immigration is too fast and too high, it is difficult to build a cohesive society. Thanks to Conservatives in government, there is now more control in the system. The nature of the immigration we have – more skilled workers and university students, less abuse and fewer unskilled migrants – better suits the national interest. But with annual net migration standing at 273,000, immigration to Britain is still too high. It is our objective to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, by which we mean annual net migration in the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen over the last two decades. We will, therefore, continue to bear down on immigration from outside the European Union. We will increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas. We will toughen the visa requirements for students, to make sure that we maintain high standards. We will expect students to leave the country at the end of their course, unless they meet new, higher requirements that allow them to work in Britain after their studies have concluded. Overseas students will remain in the immigration statistics – in line with international definitions – and within scope of the government’s policy to reduce annual net migration. Leaving the European Union means, for the first time in decades, that we will be able to control immigration from the European Union too. We will therefore establish an immigration policy that allows us to reduce and control the number of people who come to Britain from the European Union, while still allowing us to attract the skilled workers our economy needs.

Integrating divided communities (page 55)

Britain is one of the world’s most successful multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious societies. We are proud of our diversity, and the cultural and economic enrichment it brings. The enjoyment and pride we take in our diversity should not cause us to ignore the fact that in too many parts of our country, we have communities that are divided, often along racial or religious lines. To address this, we will bring forward a new integration strategy, which will seek to help people in more isolated communities to engage with the wider world, help women in particular into the workplace, and teach more people to speak English. We will work with schools to make sure that those with intakes from one predominant racial, cultural or religious background teach their students about pluralistic, British values and help them to get to know people with different ways of life.

Defeating extremism (page 55)

Our enjoyment of Britain’s diversity must not prevent us from confronting the menace of extremism. Extremism, especially Islamist extremism, strips some British people, especially women, of the freedoms they should enjoy, undermines the cohesion of our society and can fuel violence. To defeat extremism, we need to learn from how civil society and the state took on racism in the twentieth century. We will consider what new criminal offences might need to be created, and what new aggravated offences might need to be established, to defeat the extremists. We will support the public sector and civil society in identifying extremists, countering their messages and promoting pluralistic, British values. And we will establish a Commission for Countering Extremism to identify examples of extremism and expose them, to support the public sector and civil society, and help the government to identify policies to defeat extremism and promote pluralistic values. 

Confronting Burning Injustices

The Race Gap (page 56)

Theresa May’s first act as prime minister was to order an unprecedented audit of racial disparity across public services, to reveal the outcomes experienced by people of different ethnicities. That audit reports in July and a Conservative government will not hesitate to act on its findings, however uncomfortable they may be. Alongside that assault on injustice, we will tackle those issues we already know about head on. We will strengthen the enforcement of equalities law – so that private landlords and businesses who deny people a service on the basis of ethnicity, religion or gender are properly investigated and prosecuted. We will legislate to mandate changes in police practices if ’stop and search’ does not become more targeted and ’stop to arrest’ ratios do not improve. We will reduce the disproportionate use of force against Black, Asian and ethnic minority people in prison, young offender institutions and secure mental health units and we will legislate here too if progress is not made. We will launch a national campaign to increase the number of Black, Asian and ethnic minority organ donors to cut the long waiting times for patients from those groups and save more lives. We will also ask large employers to publish information on the pay gap for people from different ethnic backgrounds.