Exclusive: I will use force to defend Falklands, promises Boris Johnson

Exclusive: I will use force to defend Falklands, promises Boris Johnson

18:49 - Prime Minister vows to use military to protect British territories including Gibraltar, according to leaked papers from defence review

Boris Johnson will pledge to defend the Falklands and Gibraltar with the military, leaked documents have revealed.

As part of the Prime Minister's landmark integrated review into defence and foreign policy, he has vowed to use the Armed Forces to protect the UK and its citizens, which includes its "responsibility to ensure the security of the 14 overseas territories".

In leaked papers seen by The Telegraph, the 100-page strategy, entitled "Global Britain in a Competitive Age", sets out how it will protect overseas territories by "deterring and defending against state and non-state threats".

It adds that the Armed Forces will "deter and challenge incursions in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters" and will "maintain a permanent presence in the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island and the British Indian Ocean Territory".

The strategy also says there will be "significant investment in the sovereign base areas in Cyprus" which "will assure our ability to contribute to security with allies in the Eastern Mediterranean”"

It will be seen as a commitment to the sovereignty of the Falklands and Gibraltar at a time when tensions are high.

Recently, members of Spain's Vox party in the Andalusian Parliament urged Madrid to scrap the UK's post-Brexit agreement signed with Spain as they called for Gibraltar to be "liberated" from the UK.

The Rock has been a point of contention between Britain and Spain for centuries, with Spanish governments having sought shared sovereignty in recent years. Spain regularly sails warships into territorial waters around Gibraltar, which is seen as an act of aggression.

Last year, The Telegraph revealed that Spain had embarked on a secret lobbying drive to push US congressmen into supporting a plan to strip Britain of sole sovereignty over Gibraltar months after the Brexit vote.

Mr Johnson's pledge will be welcome news to Falklands citizens after Argentina renewed its campaign to lay claim to the islands over the past year, appointing a minister for them and lobbying at the United Nations.

A source said: "The UK is far from leaving its transatlantic commitments. They are being beefed up and held in high regard."

In a second page of the revew leaked to The Telegraph, the Government says it will spend £6.6 billion "over the next four years in R&D in areas including space, cyber, quantum technologies, engineering biology, directed energy weapons and advanced high-speed missiles".

On another page it says that, as part of its new national space strategy, it will develop a "space domain awareness". This will use "integrated in-space and ground sensing to track space debris, investigate incidents in space and detect, anticipate and attribute hostile activity".

It adds that it will ensure the military has "cutting edge capabilities to advance UK interests on Earth and in space – enhancing our cooperation with allies and ensuring we can compete with our adversaries". The Ministry of Defence has made no secret of its ambitions in space and has said the Armed Forces "are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars".

The review also brands China Britain’s “biggest state-based threat” while adding that “deeper trade links and more Chinese investment” need to be pursued, according to The Times.

Last week, The Telegraph revealed that the review would see the cap on the 180 nuclear warheads Britain can stockpile increased. Another of the leaked pages says the cap will rise to "no more than 260 warheads".

In 2010, the Government stated its intent to reduce its warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s.

The document says: "However, in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats, this is no longer possible and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads."

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