Conference diary 2: the Hague Barnstorm

Have just listened to a barnstorming and exceptionally wide-ranging performance from the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.

Highlights of the speech included:

* the work being done, despite the shortage of money inherited by the coalition government which is affecting the FO as it affects every part of the government, to increase the number of places abroad in which Britain is represented. (In places this is being done by collaporation with our friends and allies: for example we have made an agreement with Canada to share of co-locate embassies)

* A campaign against the use of rape as a weapon of war, which Britain is about to launch and which will be a major feature of this country's chairmanship of the G8 next year.  In many of the wars and civil wars of the last two decades wholesale rape and sexual abuse have been used against women and girls -and sometimes also against men and boys - on a truly horrifying scale, and it is time for the international community to recognize that this vile practice is not something that "just happens" during conflicts but an atrocity which needs to be checked and punished.

* Britain's relationship with the EU needs to move forward, but the first priority of the EU as of Britain must be to deal with the economic crisis, and calamities for the Eurozone will also have dire consequences for Britain given that the euro countries are a major market for British goods

* Britain has contributed to positive improvements in EU policy which will  help all the economies in Europe including our own.  These include long-overdue action to cut EU red tape and bureaucracy: David Cameron and others persuaded the EU to trim back the original budget proposals and thereby saved British (and European) taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds (and Euros). 


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