One thing that’s focusing everybody’s minds at the moment – at least if they’re doing any business with the UK – is Brexit. We talked to Stuart Andrew, UK Minister for Defence Procurement.
As uncertainty around Brexit deepens, there are more questions around what happens next. Where is collaboration going to go in the future? Where’s the buying going to come from? And who is the UK going to sell to?
Andrew told FINN: “Actually, I see Brexit as an opportunity because we want to build trade relations right across the globe.”
Speaking at the recent IDEX event in Dubai, he said exporting to the Gulf region is “incredibly important” to the defence industry.
Andrew commented: “I can’t see that Brexit will stop that happening because we have a fantastic capability. We have a whole host of major industries but equally important is the smaller and medium-sized industry. We want to help them to join in that export opportunity.”
On how this will be facilitated, Andrew said: “We have a fantastic team within the British government who work closely with industry in helping them to take part in our export strategy. I’ve seen some fantastic work going on and we want to build on that where there are opportunities for UK industry and industry in the Gulf to work together.”
He highlighted particular opportunities around countering terrorism, for example.
Andrew said that the UK can compete globally through programmes such as the Tempest fighter, which was announced at Farnborough Airshow in 2018.
He commented: “As I go around the industry and, in fact, around the world, the Tempest is the one thing that people often ask me about. [They want to know] how [they can] get involved.
“I think that’s really exciting because it shows that we’ve captured the imagination. We want to build on that now. We’ve been working hard and developing how we take it to the next stage.”
He said announcements about the development of the Tempest programme and more would be made soon.