Defence Secretary speech: Britain to use HARD power after Brexit, says Gavin Williamson – latest news


The Defence Secretary will use a major speech, seen by Daily Star Online, to insist the UK will stand up to adversaries with military power after Brexit.

He will confirm HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission will take in the Pacific region, where Beijing has been involved in a dispute over navigation rights and territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The carrier and F-35 jets from the UK and US will take part in the deployment which will also take in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Setting out the changing nature of international relations, Mr Williamson will claim actions by China and Russia had “blurred” the boundaries between peace and war.

TOUGH: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson wants the UK to be ‘hard’ militarily (Pic: GETTY/REUTERS)

Defence Secretary speech

HARD: Mr Williamson has some tough rhetoric for Russia (Pic: REUTERS)

‚ÄúWe must strengthen our global presence and enhance our lethality‚ÄĚ

Gavin Williamson

Britain and its allies must be prepared “to use hard power to support our interests”.

He will also insist that NATO must be prepared to face up to the new threat posed by a “resurgent” Moscow following the collapse of the US-Russia intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty.

The alliance “must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us”, he will say.

“Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Brexit has brought us to a great moment in our history,” he will say in the speech in London.

“A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

In a strongly-worded defence of¬†an interventionist¬†policy, Mr Williamson will say the price of failing to act in global crises had often been “unacceptably high” and Western powers could not “walk on by when others are in need”.

He will state: “To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger.”

Defence Secretary speech

AGGRESSIVE: Britain shouldn’t stand by in world affairs, Williamson will add (Pic: GETTY)

Defence Secretary speech

AGILE: F-35 jets from the UK and the US will be deployed to the Mediterranean and Middle East (Pic: GETTY)

Mr Williamson will say the Government’s “Global Britain” mantra must involve “action to oppose those who flout international law”.

The Defence Secretary will add¬†the Queen¬†Elizabeth’s first mission will be part of “making Global Britain a reality”.

“Significantly, British and American F-35s will be embedded in the carrier’s air wing, enhancing the reach and lethality of our forces and reinforcing the fact that the US remains our very closest of partners.”

He will also confirm plans for new Brit bases in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.

Defence Secretary speech

POMP: Britain unveiled HMS Queen Elizabeth back in 2014 (Pic: GETTY)

Defence Secretary speech

MAJESTIC: HMS Queen Elizabeth is being sent to the Pacific region (Pic: GETTY)

Setting out how he plans to spend some of the ¬£1.8 billion extra funding for defence secured last year, Mr Williamson will promise a “very significant additional investment” in cyber capabilities.

This will include improving the UK’s ability to carry out its own online attacks and protect against hackers.

Mr Williamson will also promise quicker changes in military technology.

“Against adversaries upping their spending and advancing technology, we have to respond,” he will say.

Defence Secretary speech

POLITICAL: Mr Williamson said Brexit was an opportunity (Pic: PA)

Defence Secretary speech

DEADLY: Britain has a lethal array of weapons and technology (Pic: GETTY)

“If we do not, we will find ourselves with fewer options when we face threats in the future.”

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith has slammed the coming speech and claimed that funding for defence has actually decreased.

She said: “The Conservatives have slashed the defence budget by over ¬£9 billion in real terms since 2010 and they are cutting armed forces numbers year after year.

“Instead of simply engaging in yet more sabre-rattling, Gavin Williamson should get to grips with the crisis in defence funding that is happening on his watch.”



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