Yesterday’s speech by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox broached both the fiscal problems affecting the British armed forces and the need to defend the more distant territories for which the United Kingdom retains responsibility.
He spoke about the state of the UK’s forces, ” … even after the MoD’s contribution to deficit reduction we still have the fourth largest defence budget in the world and we will continue to be one of only five countries (out of 28) in NATO meeting our 2% GDP obligation. By the end of the decade the Royal Navy will not only have its world-beating Type-45 destroyers and seven cutting edge Astute Class submarines but a step change in carrier capability that will be in service for 50 years. The RAF will have the Joint Strike Fighter and battle tested Typhoons and our aging Hercules and Tri-Star fleets will be replaced by the state of the art A400M and Voyager transport and tanker aircraft. We are spending over £1 billion for new Chinook helicopters. Unlike the previous government, we are actually funding and delivering on the promise of more helicopters for our troops…. “
And Mr. Fox also raised the defence of the two Overseas Territories which are subject to claims by other countries, ” Next year is the 30th anniversary of the victory for self-determination in the Falklands. A victory made possible by the resolve of another Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. And we will continue to guarantee the security of the Falklands. However, this is not the 1980’s. We are now working towards healthier relations with the Argentinians. But one thing is unchanged; for as long as the people of the Falklands choose to, they are, and will always be, British. And let’s also be clear about Gibraltar. Gibraltar has had a strategic importance to the UK for 300 years. It remains an important naval base and there can be no question over its sovereignty. “
The status of the Falklands and Gibraltar is being discussed at the United Nations this week, as the UN’s Fourth Committee examines the decolonization process.