Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

Post-Brexit Britain must be ready to use 'hard power'

Defence minister Gavin Williamson talks up Brexit Britain as a country ready for military action across the world

Britain's Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson thinks Brexit is a chance to address the country's role in the world. Reuters
Britain's Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson thinks Brexit is a chance to address the country's role in the world. Reuters

British politicians have often talked up the country’s “soft power” as it seeks to establish new trade deals, but the UK’s defence minister thinks post-Brexit Britain must be ready to increase its military might.

Gavin Williamson announced the deployment of the world’s most modern aircraft carrier in the Middle East and the Pacific, in a speech on Monday illustrating a tougher military stance.

Britain's permanent presence at “strategically important bases” in the Emirates is expected to be ramped up.

Mr Williamson said that Britain must stand up to those who “flout international law” and that “may lead to us intervene ourselves”.

The defence minister singled out one country in particular as to why he believes in bolstering the UK’s weaponry.

“Russia is resurgent rebuilding its military arsenal,” Mr Williamson will say.

“We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behaviour. Ready to strengthen our resilience.”

As Britain divorces from its long standing membership with the European Union, critics suggest Brexit could isolate the UK and weaken its global standing.

The defence minister believes Brexit is Britain’s opportunity to take a leading role.

“We can build new alliances, rekindle old ones and most importantly make it clear that we are the country that will act when required. And, a nation that people can turn to when the world needs leadership,” he added.

Mr Williamson urged NATO members to step up with payments of 2 percent GDP and “not be distracted by the notion of an EU army”, an idea backed by outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Britain will invest more in its international military bases in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, as well as a £1.9 billion investment in cyber security.

Updated: February 20, 2019 10:53 AM

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