02:08 GMT +318 July 2019
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    British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a media conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.

    May Vows to Ensure UK Status of ‘Leading Military Power in Europe’

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Earlier in June, The Financial Times newspaper reported that May had asked UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson to justify UK's role as a "tier one" military power.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that the United Kingdom was the leading military power in Europe, and vowed to do utmost to ensure that it would retain this status.

    "We are the leading military power in Europe with the capabilities to protect our people, defend our interests and protect our values supporting the global rules-based system. And the government that I lead will ensure that is exactly how we remain," May said, addressing the House of Commons.

    The statement comes amid reported disagreements between May and UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson. 

    May reportedly urged Williamson to focus on enhancing UK's cyber warfare capability instead of modernizing the existing capabilities of the armed forces. Last week, media also reported about rising tensions between Chancellor Philip Hammond and Williamson over the latter’s push for extra money in defense spending.

    READ MORE: UK PM: We Want Future Customs Relations With EU in Place by End of 2020

    In February, Williamson underlined the need to modernize the country's air forces, explaining it with the need to counter threats coming from Russia. In May, Williamson accused Moscow of aggressive actions, using the "Russian threat" narrative as an argument to call on the UK government to increase funding for the Royal Navy modernization.

    The intense debate around UK military capabilities and defense spending also come in the run-up to the NATO summit slated to take place in Brussels on July 11-12, during which allies are expected to reiterate their commitment to the armed forces and reinforcing collective security.

    Related:

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    May to Reportedly Face Off With Defense Sec. Over Boost in UK's Military Role
    UK Military Needs Billions of Pounds of Additional Funding – Defense Minister
    Ex-Military Chief Says UK Government is 'Living a Lie' on Defense Spending
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    power, military, House of Commons, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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