Labour's Douglas Alexander says UK 'weakened abroad'

Douglas Alexander calls for Labour to lead reforms of Europe and its institutions

The coalition government has "weakened" the UK's international influence, Labour's Douglas Alexander has claimed.

The shadow foreign secretary accused the Conservatives of pursuing an isolationist foreign policy and said Labour would "strengthen Nato".

He said it was Labour that prevented an armed strike against Syria.

Addressing delegates at the party's conference he criticised what he said was the government's "rush to military action" before evidence had been heard.

"It fell to Ed Miliband to speak for our nation," he said.

Referring to Parliament's vote against a motion that could have approved British involvement in any action against Syria he claimed "it was Labour's leadership that prevented a rush to military action on a timetable set elsewhere".

'Useless guide'

Earlier this month Foreign Secretary William Hague mocked Labour's claim to have prevented a potential strike.

Mr Alexander said the vote did not mean the UK was ignoring the rest of the world.

"For Britain to retreat from the world would be as futile as it would be foolish," he said, adding that Ukip and some Conservative backbench MPs had "reverted into isolationism".

And he attacked ministers, saying: "They have weakened our economy at home and weakened our influence abroad."

He added: "You are on your own is as useless a guide to foreign policy as it is a guide to domestic policy here in the United Kingdom."

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