U.K. Reportedly Seeks Military Bases in Caribbean and Asia

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is working on plans to build two new military bases in the Caribbean and southeast Asia, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing an interview with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The plans are part of an effort to make the U.K. “a true global player” by increasing the country’s role on the international stage after it leaves the European Union, Williamson was quoted as saying. It also marks a shift from the so-called 1968 East of Suez strategy in which the U.K. withdrew from military bases in southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf, the minister told the paper.

“We have got to make it clear that that is a policy that has been ripped up and Britain is once again a global nation,” Williamson said. The U.K. already has bases in Cyprus, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Diego Garcia, the newspaper reported.

Williamson predicted that the “political focus will shift quite dramatically” after Brexit and the U.K. has to build “deeper relationships with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Caribbean countries, but also nations right across Africa.”

The defense secretary also said in the interview that the U.K. government’s no-deal Brexit contingency plan -- which involves placing 3,500 troops on standby in the event of a chaotic exit from the EU in March -- was “good sensible planning.”

“We were always planning to carry a contingency there, just to make sure things run smoothly with or without a deal,” he said. A spokesman for the U.K. Ministry of Defence said he did not dispute the secretary’s comments quoted in the Telegraph’s report.

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