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UK Could Establish Military Bases In Caribbean And Far East After Brexit, Says Defence Secretary

The Defence Secretary said he was looking at opportunities to establish a UK presence "not just in the Far East but also in the Caribbean".

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Library image of crew members from HMS Ocean in the Caribbean supporting civilians affected by hurricane Irma and Maria (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Defence Secretary says the UK could establish new military bases in the Caribbean and the Far East.

Gavin Williamson has told the Sunday Telegraph it would allow Britain to become a "true global player" following Brexit.

Mr Williamson said: "I am very much looking at how we can get as much of our resources forward based, actually creating a deterrent but also taking a British presence.

"We are looking at those opportunities not just in the Far East but also in the Caribbean as well."

But he declined to identify possible locations.

He said he expected a dramatic shift in political focus after Brexit - with the UK building deeper relationships with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Caribbean states and nations across Africa.

Mr Williamson predicted these countries would look to the UK for "the moral leadership, the military leadership and the global leadership".

He said Britain should be "much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union".

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

He regarded the UK's move out of the EU as the country's "biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War."

He further added:

"This is our moment to be that true global player once more - and I think the armed forces play a really important role as part of that."

In response Tory backbencher Anna Soubry who's a remainer accused the Defence Secretary of having "naked ambition".

She denounced his comments as "utter twaddle", insisting that EU membership does not constrain UK defence policy.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Chris Leslie, a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "Gavin Williamson's claims that Brexit would allow the UK to build bases in the Far East or the Caribbean betray an ignorance of military strategy that is worrying in a Defence Secretary."

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, a supporter of the Best for Britain campaign for a second EU referendum, said: "If the Defence Secretary really thinks Brexit will make Britain a 'true global player', he's not read the reports his own Government have been producing.

"They tell a different story of Brexit Britain being put through economic ruin and being locked out of key defence capabilities which keep us safe."