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JEREMY HUNT has promised to increase the number of Royal Navy warships if Tory Party members pick him as prime minister.
The Foreign Secretary pledged to boost spending by 25 per cent — or £15 billion over the next five years.
It comes as tensions with Iran continue to escalate, and a second naval vessel is being sent to the Gulf earlier than planned.
Iranian leaders are demanding the release of a tanker seized by British Royal Marines, acting under the direction of the Gibraltar police.
They have also threatened to capture a UK-flagged ship if their demands are not met.
The situation almost spilled over into war this week when the frigate HMS Montrose stopped Iranian vessels boarding a British oil tanker.
Naval chiefs have now decided to send the destroyer HMS Duncan to the Gulf ahead of schedule.
Mr Hunt tweeted that the incident “shows exactly why we must invest more in defence.”
He added: “We have run down our navy too much and this must be reversed.”
Despite his claims, Tory leaders have consistently spent more money on naval facilities in the Gulf since 2010.
They opened a permanent base in Bahrain, from where a fleet of British minesweepers patrol the Gulf.
The Conservatives also opened a naval support facility at Oman’s port town Duqm.
Nearly £2 billion is already pledged for the maintenance and procurement of Royal Navy vessels in 2019, according to a Ministry of Defence corporate plan released this week.
Symon Hill from the Peace Pledge Union slammed Mr Hunt’s additional spending plans and asked: “How will this help people in Britain who are struggling to pay the bills, waiting months for a hospital appointment or having their benefits snatched away?”
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