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Gavin Williamson: Armed Forces have to be prepared to use hard power

Gavin Williamson Image copyright AFP/Getty

The UK needs a bolder and stronger armed forces prepared to use “hard power” or risk being seen as a “paper tiger”, the defence secretary will say.

Gavin Williamson will warn in a speech that Britain must stand up to those who “flout international law”.

He will also say that the UK has its “greatest opportunity” to redefine its position on the world stage after Brexit.

Labour said the military had been “completely undermined” by Tory cuts.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday, Mr Williamson will unveil plans to modernise the armed forces, and say it must increase its “mass and lethality”.

He will also confirm the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is being deployed to the Pacific region, where China has been involved in a dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The carrier will take part in the mission along with F-35 jets from the UK and US.

Image copyright PA Image caption The defence secretary is announcing details of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission

Mr Williamson is to use his speech to outline how cyber forces will be reinforced thanks to a “very significant investment”, which will be used both to defend and launch attacks.

The defence secretary won an extra £1.8bn for defence in the last budget.

With the boundaries between peace and war becoming “blurred” – particularly by Russia and China, he will claim – Mr Williamson will say Britain and its allies had to be ready “to use hard power to su

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