Gavin WIlliamson Atlantic Council

Defence Secretary: Britain 'Will Always Be A Tier One Nation'

The Defence Secretary has addressed the Atlantic Council in the United States.

Gavin WIlliamson Atlantic Council

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson speaking at the Atlantic Council (Picture: Atlantic Council).

The Defence Secretary has addressed the Atlantic Council in the United States by saying Britain will always be a "tier one" military power.

Gavin Williamson is currently visiting Washington DC.

On Tuesday, Mr Williamson addressed Brexit concerns and said leaving the European Union will give Britain more freedom.

Mr Williamson said: "No one should worry - for while Britain is leaving the European Union - we are still clear about our place in the world.

"We have always been a tier one military power and we always will be."

Founded in 1961, the Atlantic Council is an American think tank which aims to 'promote constructive leadership and engagement' in the field of international affairs.

Whilst in the United States, Mr Williamson will also meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Within the address, the Defence Secretary said Britain stands with the United States and will continue to be its allies:

"We also agree with the United States National Defence Strategy that by working together with allies and partners we amass the greatest possible strength for the long-term advancement of our interests." He added:

"After all, we need international solutions to international problems."

The recent chemical weapon attack in Salisbury was also addressed, by stating that within a "new age of intertwined dangers which is getting ever more complex - it is even more important that we stand together with our allies."

Mr Williamson added: "Who would have thought a year ago that we would have seen in the United Kingdon, in a sleepy Cathedral town - in the middle of the English countryside, the use of chemical weapons first chemical use of weapons? The first use of chemical weapons in Europe since the Second World War."

The use of chemical weapons on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia were compared to tactics of terrorists, of which the finger was again pointed at Russia:

"It demonstrates the fact that the dangers are diversifying - with states adopting the tactics of terrorists and terrorists increasingly armed with more and more sophisticated weapons. 

"All blurring the line between peace and conflict."

He ended his speech on a strong note as he warned that Britain should not be underestimated:

It follows a series of announcements as earlier the Defence Secretary said a new specialist Army unit will work with women in conflicts in Africa.

Mr Williamson said the expert team will help tackle sexual violence, and also the use of female suicide bombers.

Just last week, the Defence Secretary was making his first visit to Africa - it was at the International Peace Centre in Nairobi that he met some of those working with British troops who train local forces.

Kenya is one of many African countries that is locked in battle with the so-called Islamic State.

Al Shabab is thought to have as many as 9,000 fighters, who have carried out mass attacks in Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda.

Their victims are often women, some are murdered, sexually assaulted or abused.

Some women are also recruited as suicide bombers - whether they're willing or not.