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Williamson celebrates 'lethality' of British armed forces

British army recruits in training

Williamson celebrates 'lethality' of British armed forces

Gavin Williamson has been accused of promoting dangerous mililtary fantasies after repeating his insistence that the UK can increase its military power after Brexit.

The UK's "Defence" Secretary was widely criticised for suggesting that Brexit is an opportunity for the UK government and its troops to "enhance our lethality and increase our mass".

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said that the establishment's twisted priorities are revealed by the notion that "lethality" - the ability to kill other human beings - is something to get excited about. 

The speech is being interpreted in much of the media as a call for even more funding for the UK armed forces. The UK already has the seventh highest military spending in the world

Williamson made the comments today in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a militarist thinktank that receives a significant proportion of its funding from arms companies

Peace Pledge Union spokesperson Symon Hill said, "Both leavers and remainers can see that Brexit should be no excuse for militarism and war. Ever since be became Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson has lived in a fantasy world of romantic military adventures. He sounds more and more like a boy playing with toy soldiers. But he is playing with the lives and deaths of real people."

The PPU also challenged the Labour Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith, who responded to Williamson's speech by criticising cuts to "defence" spending. The PPU urged Labour and other opposition parties to commit themselves to replacing military spending with expenditure on tackling root causes of insecurity. 

In his speech today, Williamson advocated military intervention against regimes that "flout international law". But the PPU accused him of hypocrisy, pointing out that he Royal Air Force is training Saudi pilots, not only in Saudi Arabia but in RAF Valley in North Wales. These are the same Saudi troops who are killing thousands of civilians in Yemen, many of them with British-made weapons. 

For the PPU, Symon Hill added, "To be effective in resisting injustice, we need to be consistent. This means challenging war and aggression regardless of whether those responsible are friends or enemies of people who hold power in the UK." 

Instead of trusting in ministers who celebrate "lethality", the Peace Pledge Union backs people around the world engaged in active, nonviolent resistance to injustice and militarism wherever they appear. The PPU is the British section of War Resisters' International.