The future of Britain’s role in tackling the refugee crisis using military resources “will become clearer” after we leave the EU, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said.

Sir Michael failed to give an explicit commitment to such projects during defence questions in the House of Commons today.

However, he said the UK's involvement in such projects was in the national interest.

Sir Michael had previously said he expected to continue cooperation with his fellow defence ministers after Brexit, while Tory MP David Davies said migrants rescued from the Mediterranean should be taken to north Africa rather than Europe.

Speaking at Defence questions, former minister Chris Bryant said the UK was "a central part of the European forces" in places such as Bosnia and in the Mediterranean.

Mr Bryant added: "Does this mean the Government will be committing to remain part of such forces in the future, European forces, after we've left the European Union?"

In reply, Sir Michael said:

"That will become clearer after we leave, but we do play an important part in Sophia, in Althea and also in Atalanta (three EU anti-migrant operations), not just because of our membership of the European Union but also because it is in our national interest to help deal with migration and to curb piracy off the horn of Africa, and to help stabilise the western Balkans."

In a later question, Mr Davies said the Royal Navy "has rescued hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean and taken them to Italy".

He added: "But has the time now come to consider taking them to North Africa, in order to take away the incentive to risk people's lives and to prevent money being made by people traffickers?"

Responding, defence minister Mark Lancaster said: "As part of Operation Sophia the Royal Navy and UK assets have saved over 12,500 lives, destroyed more than 170 smuggling boats and apprehended 23 suspected smugglers.

"We are the only country in Europe that has provided at least one ship at all times.

"It is UK Government policy to tackle migration at its source and we are pursuing a comprehensive response, including training coastguards, providing sustainable alternatives to unmanaged migration and disrupting criminal gangs."

Earlier, Labour's Kerry McCarthy questioned about Britain's influence in the world following Brexit.

She said: "Does the Secretary of State agree with Lord Hague that we ought to be seeking permanent membership of EU's common political security committee to ensure that we can lead a united response on issues like sanctions in Iran and to ensure that we have a united voice on the Falklands?"

Sir Michael said: "After Brexit we will still have the largest defence budget in Europe, we will have the largest Navy in Europe, we have a range of assets and capabilities that other countries in Europe will want to continue working with us on.

"So far as foreign policy is concerned, we have not yet got to that point in the negotiations of sorting out exactly what the relationship will be - but let me just assure that I expect to continue the cooperation we have with my fellow defence ministers."