UK the ‘military superpower’ of Europe, says Defence Secretary

PA

The Defence Secretary has said the United Kingdom will continue to bring “peace, stability and security” after Brexit.

Gavin Williamson claimed the “military superpower” will continue to play a leading role in defence after leaving the European Union.

Mr Williamson was speaking at the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill in Edinburgh on Thursday to announce the name of a new frigate, the HMS Edinburgh, which will be built on the Clyde.

He said: “Britain has always played a major role in terms of defending not just continental Europe but bringing peace and stability right around the world.

“The cornerstone of defence for Europe and the North Atlantic is not the European Union, it’s Nato that’s delivered security in Europe for the last 69 years and that is something that Britain leads in.

“We’re absolutely integral to bringing that stability. We’re the biggest investor in our armed forces of any nation in Europe, we are Europe’s military superpower and it’s Britain’s role in bringing that security.

“It’s not just about making Britain more secure, it’s making the whole of continental Europe more secure as well, but that’s done through Nato.

“We are going to be continuing to invest more and more in defence over the next few years and this is something I think that everyone recognises is really important.”

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Mr Williamson also said he believes Theresa May’s Brexit deal will pass when it is put to a vote in the House of Commons in just under two weeks’ time, despite a number Conservative MPs, including several who resigned from her Cabinet, indicating they will vote it down.

“The Prime Minister has been out there, the British people voted to leave the European Union in 2016 and it’s delivering Brexit, making sure that we have the very best deal,” said Mr Williamson.

“You’ve seen so much of Scottish industry come out in support of what the Prime Minister has been out there to deliver and that’s what she is going to deliver.

“The Prime Minister is taking the opportunity and she was in Scotland making that message clear.

“You hear so many Scottish businesses saying that this is a great deal for Scotland, this is a great deal for the whole of the United Kingdom, and the Prime Minister is delivering on what the British people asked for in 2016.”

“She’s taking out the message, talking to people and explaining the benefits this will bring to the whole of the United Kingdom.”

The Defence Secretary also said justice must be brought following the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He said: “What we’ve seen in terms of what happened in Turkey is absolutely vitally important and this is what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been doing is getting right behind the Turkish authorities in terms of this investigation

“There needs to be a very detailed criminal investigation and people need to be brought to justice as a result of it, and that is very much what the British Government is going to be supporting.

“There is a criminal investigation that is ongoing in Turkey and what is important to do is make sure that any support that can be given to that criminal investigation is given, but actually a criminal investigation has to take its course.

“What we want to do is see people brought to justice as a result of it”.