UK's not a superpower and we're lucky jihadis didn't fight back

‘UK is not a superpower’: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says Britain ‘hasn’t been able to field a mass army for 50 years’… and claims Afghan withdrawal could have been worse if Taliban had put up a fight

  • Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said ‘is obvious that Britain is not a superpower’ 
  • Said evacuation from Afghanistan ‘could have been worse’ if Taliban had fought
  • Mr Wallace also denied claims that he blocked a flight out of Afghanistan for former Royal Marine Pen Farthing and his rescue animals

Britain is not a superpower, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last night – as he warned that the scrambled withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘could have been much worse’ if the Taliban had put up a fight.

Mr Wallace said it was time for the public to take a realistic look at Britain’s place in the world.

In an interview with the Spectator magazine, he said Britain ‘hasn’t been able to field a mass army for 50 years – if not longer’. 

But he said the country still had ‘a huge range of tools at our disposal: from soft to hard power, economic power, scientific power and cultural power’.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) said last night that ‘is obvious that Britain is not a superpower’ and ‘hasn’t been able to field a mass army for 50 years – if not longer’

He added: ‘It is obvious that Britain is not a superpower. But a superpower that is also not prepared to stick at something isn’t probably a superpower either. It is certainly not a global force, it’s just a big power.’

His comments will be seen as a swipe at the United States after its decision to abandon its military effort in Afghanistan.

But defence sources denied this, saying he was making a wider point about the need for the West to stand up to adversaries prepared to stick to ‘100-year plans’.

A source said Mr Wallace was clear that the US ‘is a superpower’.

The Defence Secretary deployed 600 British troops to Afghanistan last month to facilitate the evacuation from Kabul airport, and he said the situation ‘could have been much worse’ if the Taliban had fought back. 

The Defence Secretary deployed 600 British troops to Afghanistan last month to facilitate the evacuation from Kabul airport, and he said the situation ‘could have been much worse’ if the Taliban had fought back. Pictured: British military boarding an RAF aircraft at Kabul Airport

Mr Wallace also denied claims that he blocked a flight out of Afghanistan for former Royal Marine Pen Farthing and his rescue animals but said said he ‘won’t prioritise pets over people’

Mr Wallace added: ‘We sent 16 Air Assault Brigade, Nato’s most ready brigade, specifically designed for quick intervention and raw fighting. If it turned nasty, that was who you wanted there. And it could have been nasty. But the Taliban in the end were compliant.

‘They could have rained mortars on [the airport]. They didn’t. It was better than it could have been.’ 

Mr Wallace also denied claims that he blocked a flight out of Afghanistan for former Royal Marine Pen Farthing and his rescue animals.

‘I didn’t block the flight,’ he said. ‘But I said very clearly that I won’t prioritise pets over people.’

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