Dear Members and Friends,

As I write this weekly report, the sun is shining, England have seen off South Africa in the Cricket World Cup, there is a UK win in the Europa final, by definition there will be one in the Champions league, and the ever expanding Tory leadership contest is beginning to resemble the starting line-up of the Grand National (with a similar spread in the betting odds). We have had an equally exciting week at Strategy International.

Perspectives - Podcast
Alexander Downer, the longest serving Australian foreign minister and up til last year the Aussie High Commissioner to the UK, spoke to Tom Cargill. It’s a good listen for anyone interested in listening to a hugely informed and experienced voice on the subjects of UK/China relations, UK/Australian defence and security co-operation and a particular take on the Brexit process and what it’s doing to the UK. Here’s the link →

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Wednesday 29th May. The Future of Air Power Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC, Chief of the Air Staff
As Stephen nears the end of his career after 39 years’ service, he reflected on the trends during his service but concentrated on the future and what this would mean for Air Power. He talked through 12 points and the thrust of his vision was as follows. Space would and is becoming increasingly important (this has already been spotted by many Nations), air vehicles increasingly will be unmanned, technological development will outpace the legal, moral and ethical frameworks and the 4th dimension time will become increasingly important. The speed of decision making is key, and we will all need learn how to cope with artificial intelligence. We had a fascinating wide-ranging discussion and recognised that we faced similar challenges across all our businesses.

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Wednesday 29th May. DFID Work in the Middle East and North Africa
Wednesday saw Emma Donnelly, Deputy Director of DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Division, brief a keen audience on the Department’s activities in this Region which have grown considerably since the Arab Spring in 2011. The particular mixture of factors such as conflict-driven migration and political rivalries between major regional powers make for a particularly challenging planning and delivery environment. This has led DFID to focus in-depth on three core themes: humanitarian assistance, education and economic growth in alignment with HMG’s “fusion” approach to building greater stability.

Thursday 30th May. Dealing with the Russians
On Thursday evening, D Group members were treated to a brilliant discussion with Dr Andrew Monaghan, Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College, Oxford. The discussion explored the nature of the relationship between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia, and the extent to which renewed dialogue may be possible. It was argued that the source of conflict is a fundamental misunderstanding and a clash of policies, and that it is unhelpful that many of our politicians tend to give very polarised, binary responses when it comes to discussing the Russian state. While our government’s relationship with the Russian state has been tense of late, some other countries are faring better – notably, China. There is a necessity for a new agenda in any new dialogue, and business will have a major role to play in this.

As the week now draws to a close we can all look forward to a sunny hot weekend. Last night I was at the Tower of London for the handover of Governors and had a long conversation with the Chaplain to the Tower who had just returned from Ethiopia. He had been living in a remote village for a month in a mud hut with a family. There was no electricity, running water or wifi but it was a thriving community, with respect for everyone and little or no crime. This is in total contrast to the hectic, connected world that we all live in. On that note, have a brilliant weekend and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Upcoming Events:

Wednesday 5th June 2019 – The D Group Lunch
The Future of Smart Infrastructure in the UK 
Andrew Wyllie CBE FREng MBA BSc CEng FICE CCMI, President, The Institution of Civil Engineers

Thursday 6th June 2019 – BEI
Project Opportunities Middle East and North Africa
Ceri Evans, Regional Manager UK, MEED Projects

Tuesday 11th June 2019 – BEI
New Infrastructure Opportunities in Chile
Chilean Minister of Public Works, Juan Andres Fontaine

Thursday 13th June 2019
Meet the UK Ambassadors — AFRICA
Join BEI in association with Invest Africa for our annual “Meet the Ambassadors” Africa events. UK Heads of Mission will provide political and economic updates and share their insights on opportunities for British Business. Please double check venues as some meetings will be held as usual at 23 Grafton Street and others at:

• East Africa — 8.45am (Venue — 23 Grafton St)
• Francophone Africa — 11.30am (Venue — 23 Grafton St)
• Southern Africa — 9.30am (14 June, venue — PwC, More London)
• West Africa– 1.30pm (venue — IHS Markit, London)
• Central Africa– 8.30am (venue — Squire Patton Boggs, EC2M 4YH)