Posted on February 11, 2019
Britain must be prepared to take military action against countries that “flout international law” or risk being seen as a “paper tiger”, Gavin Williamson will say.
The Defence Secretary will use a major speech to insist the UK will stand up to adversaries with both traditional military power and a significant investment in Britain’s cyber warfare capabilities.
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.
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.”
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.”
Mr Williamson will say the Government’s “Global Britain” mantra must involve “action to oppose those who flout international law”.