Post-Brexit Britain ready to use 'hard power': Defense minister
British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson has revealed that Britain's new aircraft carrier will go to the Pacific on its first operational mission, CNN reported.
Britain will use military force to support its interests after Brexit, Williamson said on Monday, in a speech setting out a global role for the armed forces but with little detail on how to fund such ambitions in the long term.
Williamson outlined plans to send Britain's new aircraft carrier to the Pacific, and called for a tougher military stance after Brexit.
"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," he said.
He said boundaries between peace and war were becoming "blurred" by the increasing use of technological warfare, subversion and propaganda, and that Britain and its allies had to be ready "to use hard power to support our global interests."
The opposition Labour Party accused him of "saber rattling."
In his speech in London, Williamson did not announce any new funding beyond what was allocated at a 2018 budget.
Britain spends around 36 billion pounds per year on defense – the seventh largest sum globally, measured in dollar prices in 2017, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. That budget is dwarfed by those at the top of the list, with the U.S. spending 13 times more.
Brexit has brought on Britain's biggest political crisis since World War Two as Prime Minister Theresa May scrambles to find a last-minute agreement on the terms of withdrawal from the EU, due to take place on March 29. Brexit supporters say the decision to leave the EU will provide a chance for Britain to take on a new global role. Opponents describe it as a blow both to Britain's influence and to the West as a whole.
"We will build new alliances, rekindle old ones and most importantly make it clear that we are the country that will act when required. We should be the nation that people can turn to when the world needs leadership," Williamson said.
He announced that the first mission of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will include work in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Pacific regions, and the vessel would carry two squadrons of British and U.S. F-35 jets.
(Cover Image: British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson /Reuters Photo)