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UK will always be 'tier one' military power, says defense minister

Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson arrives at Blenheim Palace, where U.S. President Donald Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump are attending a dinner with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and business leaders, near Oxford, Britain, July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will always be a “tier one” military power, defense minister Gavin Williamson said on Tuesday.

In June, Prime Minister Theresa May said a report that she had questioned the United Kingdom’s status as a “tier one” military power was incorrect. But when asked directly she declined to repeat the phrase, saying only that she wanted Britain to be a “leading defense nation.”

“Britain is a major global actor, we have always been a tier one military power and we always will be a tier one military power,” Williamson told the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.

Reporting by Kate Holton, Writing by Kylie MacLellan