I’m Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary. At Christmas, I want to look back over what the Foreign Office has done in 2017 to help British people overseas – a duty we must always put first.
In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept across the Caribbean and Florida, endangering more Britons than any other natural disaster in history, with half a million of our citizens caught in their path.
I visited the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla a few days after the storm had passed and I will never forget the scenes of destruction, nor the indomitable spirit of the islanders. In London, the Foreign Office mobilised 400 staff and dispatched over 1,000 more to the Caribbean, coordinating the supply of emergency aid to our Overseas Territories.
The task now is long term reconstruction and the British government will do everything possible to help our citizens in the Caribbean to rebuild and recover.
Keeping our people safe also requires us to deal robustly with terrorism and in 2017 the Foreign Office played our part in the successful offensive against Daesh, which saw the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa. Today, Daesh no longer control any significant territory in Iraq or Syria and they are weaker as a result.
We cannot tell what new challenges will arise in 2018 – and we should learn from the experiences of this year – but I want you to know that looking after our own is, in the end, the reason why the Foreign Office is here, and we will do everything we can to help you enjoy a safe and prosperous 2018.
So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.