On May 11th 2022, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed security pacts with Sweden and Finland. Is this something the Government could do without passing any legislation through Parliament and without consulting NATO? It seems this is a bold move which can possibly impact the UK security and impact NATO.
Yes - the UK Government may negotiate and sign international security treaties without consulting Parliament as part of its executive power.
However, under section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, such a treaty must be laid before Parliament for a period of 21 sitting days before the government can ratify it. If either House of Parliament decides during that period that the treaty should not be ratified, the government may not do so, but the relevant Minister must present a statement to the House explaining why the treaty should, nevertheless, be ratified. The 21 day period then begins again, during which Parliament must once again vote down the treaty if it disagrees.
On the other hand, this only applies to treaties - defined in section 25 of the Act as a written agreement:
- (a) between States or between States and international organisations, and
- (b) binding under international law.
The particular security pact you're referring to, signed on May 11th, is not a treaty but a political declaration. The text of the agreement may be found here, and while it does reference mutual assistance -
Should either country suffer a disaster or an attack, the United Kingdom and Sweden will, upon request from the affected country, assist each other in a variety of ways, which may include military means. Such an intensified cooperation will remain fully in line in [sic] with each country's security and defence policy and is designed to complement not replace existing European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation.
- it also very clearly states that this is a political declaration:
This document is a political declaration and not a legally binding commitment under international law.
The signing of this agreement is therefore completely within the remit of the UK Government and does not require ratification from Parliament.