Page last updated at 01:57 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 02:57 UK

UK needs new role in world politics, says survey

Royal Marines in Afghanistan
Operations in Afghanistan are intrinsic to the UK's security, says the survey

The UK needs a "radical reassessment" of its role in world politics, a survey by a defence think tank suggests.

Some 88% agreed with that statement in the poll of more than 2,000 members of the defence and security community by the Royal United Services Institute.

Military operations in Afghanistan were intrinsic to the UK's security said 57%, but about a third disagreed.

The survey was released ahead of the second of the televised party leaders' election debates, on foreign affairs.

Nuclear deterrent

Some 58% of those polled thought the UK's best interests were served by maintaining a special relationship with the US, ahead of other strategic partners.

On security priorities for the next government, just over 80% believed tackling terrorism would remain the most pressing task.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have said they would renew the UK's Trident nuclear deterrent missile system, a stance backed by 53%.

That proportion agreed that Trident's security and political benefits clearly outweighed its diplomatic and economic costs, but more than a third disagreed.

Policy positions

BBC News defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says all three main political parties have committed to holding a strategic defence review - which will need to decide just what the UK's role should be - after the election.

The 90-minute leaders' debate is being held at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol at 2000 BST on Thursday.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was widely regarded to have "won" the first debate, on home issues.

The Lib Dems hope their foreign affairs theme of opposition to the Iraq war and criticism of the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan may work to their advantage.

But Labour and the Conservatives believe the Lib Dems will be vulnerable because of the party's hostility to renewing Trident and their policies over Europe.

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