David Cameron is set to deny that Britain is in “decline” internationally despite economic woes, severe defence cuts and the rapid growth of economies such as China.
The Prime Minister will insist the country is still “at the centre” of major global decisions and remains a “great economic power” and a key military force.
But, making his first annual Mansion House foreign affairs address, he will concede the UK has lost “respect” because of the state of the national finances which must be won back.
Mr Cameron has just returned from a trade mission to China and the G20 summit of world leaders in South Korea, at which he denied Britain had been sidelined.
The coalition Government has also been under sustained fire from ex-military chiefs who believe cost-cutting measures in the armed forces will seriously weaken the country’s capabilities.
He will use the speech to reject any notion that Britain is falling behind and to promise a foreign policy “focused like a laser on defending and advancing Britain’s national interest”.
Addressing the state of the nation’s finances, he will say that addressing the record deficit “is as important a foreign policy priority as it is a domestic one”.
He will add: “We need to sort out the economy if we are to carry weight in the world. Economic weakness at home translates into political weakness abroad. Economic strength will restore our respect in the world and our national self confidence.”
But he insisted that fellow world leaders do not see Britain “shuffling apologetically off the world stage”.
“On the contrary, they respect our determination to get our economic house in order so we can remain masters of our nation’s destiny,” the PM will say.