PM May asked defence minister to justify UK status as ‘tier one’ military power, reports FT

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson talks to US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis during a Nato defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 7, 2018. — Reuters pic
British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson talks to US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis during a Nato defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 7, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, June 21 — Prime Minister Theresa May asked her defence minister to justify the United Kingdom’s status as a “tier one” military power, sending shockwaves through the defence establishment just weeks before a major Nato summit, the Financial Times reported.

The FT said May told Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson that he needed to rethink the capabilities needed to be a modern military force and focus more on Britain’s ability to tackle any cyber warfare threats, including from Russia.

May’s office denied the report.

“It is categorically untrue to suggest that the UK’s position as a Tier One Defence Nation is somehow in question,” said a spokesman.

May’s intervention created shockwaves at the defence ministry, the FT reported, without citing a source.

The Defence Ministry declined to offer an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. — Reuters

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