11:22 GMT +319 February 2019
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    Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Conservative Party's Spring Forum in Cardiff, Wales, March 17, 2017.

    UK PM May Calls Britain Leading Defense Nation Amid Controversial Rumors

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    The alleged comment comes amid ongoing dispute at the Whitehall regarding military spending and ahead of upcoming NATO summit, where the US may again raise the question of greater involvement of its allies in financing the alliance.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May has emphasized that Britain was a leading defense nation and would continue to be so amid rumors of her allegedly saying otherwise behind closed doors, which she has called "incorrect."

    "We will continue to spend 2 percent of our GDP on defense," she added.

    Earlier in the day, Financial Times reported that Theresa May had questioned Britain's role as a "tier one" military power during the discussion of modernization of the UK's army with defense secretary Gavin Williamson. According to the publication, she also stressed the necessity to rethink the needs of armed forces and focus on improving cyber warfare capabilities in order to be able to fend off new threats, including those coping from Russia.

    According to the media, the UK Prime Minister's comments sent "shockwaves" through the Ministry of Defense. Its employees were reportedly tasked with defining the term of "tier one military power" to determine whether the UK lost such status.

    READ MORE: 'Russia Threat Central' as UK MPs Call for Cold War Level Military Spending

    Downing Street spokesman, commenting on the news, denied allegations that Theresa May questioned the UK's leading role as military power, but confirmed that Williamson's plans for modernization of the army were discussed during the meeting.

    "It is categorically untrue to suggest that the UK's current position as a leading defense nation is somehow in question," the spokesman said.

    The UK prime minister's spokeswoman also commented on the report, saying that Theresa May is committed to ensuring that the UK "remains a leading military power" with the largest budget in Europe.

    The defense secretary is currently battling over funding of the countries armed forces, with May's government giving the priority to the national healthcare system.

    READ MORE: UK: States Attacked in Cyberspace Have Right to Self-Defense — Military Official

    The alleged comment surfaced ahead of upcoming NATO summit, where the question of alliance funding could be raised. Previously the US and specifically it president Donald Trump demanded the European allies to increase their input into NATO's budget, stating that the US must not bear such heavy financial burden in the alliance alone.


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