Labour says Gavin Williamson’s rhetoric is undermined by defence cuts
Brexit represents an opportunity for Britain to boost its global military standing and “enhance our lethality” in response to the threats posed by Russia and China, the defence secretary will say in a notably combative address at a defence thinktank.
In a major speech at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, the Cabinet minister will insist that the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ slogan is not a “pity phrase” – and talk up the prospect of the UK going it alone to defend its military interests in the future.
He will say: “Brexit has brought us to a great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass.”
The Cabinet minister will say that Brexit offers Britain the chance “to consider how we not only project but maximise our influence around the world in the months and years to come”.
And he will call for the UK to be more willing to “use hard power to support our interests” in future, as he warns that failing to intervene against aggressive foreign powers “risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger”.
He will say: “This is why ‘global Britain’ needs to be much more than a pity phrase. It is about action.
“And our armed forces represent the best of global Britain in action: action to oppose those who flout international law; and action, on occasion, that may lead to us intervene ourselves.”
The Defence Secretary is also expected to shed light on plans for “very significant investment” in Britain’s cyber defences following a boost to the Ministry of Defence budget last year.
And he will confirm that new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is being deployed to the Pacific for its maiden voyage in 2021 amid a dispute over China’s claims in the South China Sea.
But Labour said the UK’s defences had been hurt by the Government’s near-decade long squeeze on public spending.
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said: “The UK’s ability to play our role on the international stage has been completely undermined by eight years of Tory defence cuts.
“The Conservatives have slashed the defence budget by over £9bn in real terms since 2010 and they are cutting armed forces numbers year after year.
So what do you think?
Tell us in the comments.