The scope of UK national security threats has broadened significantly in recent years, requiring constant cross-Whitehall collaboration. The existing national security machinery failed to identify or correctly steer a path through a series of ‘strategic’ issues throughout the 2010s. Most recently, the National Security Council was rendered moribund throughout the Covid-19 response, prompting questions over its role in protecting the UK.
The forthcoming Integrated Review provides an opportunity to reset our approach. It should retain its considerable strengths, while enhancing its structure and creating mechanisms for true citizen engagement. However, sustained success will be dependent on a more profound cultural and behavioural change, delivered through strong Prime Ministerial commitment to the National Security Council.