UK pitches "global Britain" by flexing military muscle - defence minister

Frederick Owens
February 13, 2019

The United Kingdom will deploy its new aircraft carrier, loaded with two squadrons of F-35 aircraft into the politically-fraught South China Sea.

The UK needs to strengthen its "lethality" and must be ready to "use hard power" to uphold it interests against nations like Russian Federation and China, Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson said on Monday.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain's largest warship, is slated to head to the Pacific region, U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Monday.

"A post-Brexit global Britain must be about taking action alongside our friends and allies and action to oppose those who flout worldwide law".

"Since the new global great game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared compete for our interests and our values far, far from home", he said.

His remarks will come as Beijing remains embroiled in dispute with neighbouring countries and the U.S. over territorial claims in the South China Sea, a strategic and economically crucial waterway, which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes annually.

He said: "We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behavior".

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He said: "In NATO, we must stand firm against Russia's non-compliance with the INF Treaty, if necessary being ready to deal with the threat that new Russian missile systems may pose".

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Mr Williamson said Britain must stand up to those who "flout global law".

"To talk, but fail to act, risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger".

According to Williamson, the combined US-UK air wing aboard the carrier will improve "the reach and lethality of our forces" while "reinforcing the fact that the US remains our very closest of partners".

Williamson detailed plans to modernise the armed forces, and said it must increase its "mass and lethality".

"And action, on occasion, that may lead us to have to intervene alone, " he said.

'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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