May: Britain will remain leading defence nation


Theresa May has insisted Britain will remain a "leading defence nation" amid reports she had questioned the level of military capability the country needs.

Following talks in Downing Street with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister said the UK would maintain a range of capabilities - including conventional, cyber and nuclear.

She said a report suggesting she had challenged Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to justify the country's status as a "tier one" military power was "not correct".

The Financial Times reported Mrs May had sent "shockwaves" through the Ministry of Defence after telling Mr Williamson he needed to rethink which capabilities the UK needed for a modern military force.

Speaking at joint news conference with Mr Stoltenberg, Mrs May said: "The United Kingdom is a leading member of the Nato alliance. We are a leading defence nation and that will continue.

"We are the second biggest defence budget in Nato. We are the biggest defence budget in Europe.

"The reports that you have read are not correct. We will continue to be that leading contributor to the alliance but also a leading defence nation. We will continue to spend 2% of our GDP on defence.

"We will continue to contribute in a whole variety of ways across conventional, cyber and nuclear capabilities."