01:09 GMT04 August 2021
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    An anonymous source has alleged the controversial minister's suggestion left Chief of Defence Staff General Nick Carter "rolling his eyes".

    It's been reported UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson suggested UK forces should pelt Spanish warships with paintballs in a bid to humiliate them, in a summit with top military brass. 

    The suggestion came in response to an ever-increasing number of Spanish vessels illegally entering British waters off the Rock of Gibraltar — the rate currently stands at over two a day, with a total of 816 incursions in 2018, up from 541 the year prior.

    A senior military source told The Sun Williamson "comes up with some pretty off the wall things", but firing paintballs at the Spanish Navy "beats the lot of them".

    ​"It was an excruciating moment when everyone in the room realised he was deadly serious. Private Pike strikes again," the source said, a reference to the scatterbrained and clumsy character in popular British sitcom Dad's Army.

    However, the Ministry of Defence insisted Williamson was "speaking in jest", telling the newspaper he was merely "in favour of the Royal Navy taking a strong stand against Spanish incursions into sovereign British waters".

    Litany of Embarrassment

    Since his appointment in November 2017, Williamson has frequently been the subject of ridicule for his actions and comments, and the paintballing fiasco isn't the first time he's put his foot in it in respect of Spain — he's also suggested sending a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer to the Spanish territory of Ceuta on the Moroccan coast, to deal with the Spanish "threat". 

    Moreover, in May 2018 he became a laughing stock on Twitter after broadcaster Richard Madeley abruptly and angrily terminated a car crash interview due to Williamson's apparent inability to answer a simple question — whether he regretted saying Russia should "shut up and go away" following the apparent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March that year.

    In the widely-shared clip, Madeley asks Williamson whether he stood by his decision to use "those words." Despite being asked three times, Williamson refused to answer the question, first "[paying] tribute" to National Health Service workers who tended to the Skripals, then hailing how the UK had "come together" with its international allies.

    ​Evidently frustrated in the extreme, Madeley terminated the interview, proceeding to bemoan the inability of British politicians to answer a "straight question" and reflecting on how easy it would've been for Williamson confirm or deny he was happy with his phraseology.


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    Spain, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Brexit, Poisoning of Sergei Skripal, naval exercises, paintball, naval forces, political gaffe
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