'Focus on Brexit!' NK lashes out as UK sends largest carrier strike group to Asia waters

HMS Queen Elizabeth displays ‘global Britain’ says Moorhouse

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Last month, Britain said it would deploy two warships in Asian waters as HMS Queen Elizabeth and escort ships will sail to Japan next month through the highly contested region. The British ships will not have a permanent base, according to the British Embassy in Tokyo.

Now, the North Korean Foreign Ministry hit out at the decision claiming London should focus on Brexit rather than “restoring its declining status”.

In a statement, the ministry said: “The UK, which is intensifying the situation by pushing warships into the distant Asia-Pacific region, is using our ‘threat’ as an excuse.”

It labelled Britain’s actions as “dangerous” and a “provocation”.

The statement claimed the UK is acting on an “absurd bet” that North Korea and China are working together to isolate South Korea and Japan.

North Korea scathing attack on HMS Queen Elizabeth

North Korea scathing attack on HMS Queen Elizabeth (Image: Getty)

HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed to Asian waters

HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed to Asian waters (Image: Getty)

Kim Jong-un’s secretive nation accused Britain of trying to “restore its declining status” but said its plan will only cause opposition from other countries.

They warned it could inflame an already “tense situation” in the Asia-Pacific.

The statement read: “It would be better for the UK to focus on the troublesome Brexit outcome rather than risking others unreasonably for the realisation of its political goals.”

Their comments come after Britain announced the permanent deployment of ships in the contested region.

READ MORE: Beijing threatens to ‘expel’ British warships in the South China Sea

North Korea's Supreme leader Kim Jong-un

North Korea’s Supreme leader Kim Jong-un (Image: PA)

Britain’s defence minister, Ben Wallace, announced the news in a joint announcement with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.

He said: “Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year.”

Mr Kishi echoed: “We reconfirmed our shared position that we firmly oppose attempts to change the status quo by coercion and the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort ships will split up for separate port calls to US and Japanese naval bases, Mr Kishi said.

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Beijing accuses UK of ‘provoking’ China with HMS Queen Elizabeth [INSIGHT] 

South China Sea row: HMS Queen Elizabeth ignores Chinese threats [REVEAL] 

South China Sea: Britain flexes military muscles in threat to Beijing [COMMENT]

South China Sea crisis mapped

South China Sea crisis mapped (Image: Express)

In a statement on the deployment, a Pentagon spokesperson congratulated Britain for its “commitment to an interconnected network of allies and partners, who mutually cooperate and support freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region”.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is being escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support vessels and ships from the US and the Netherlands.

Mr Wallace said Britain had a “duty” to insist on freedom of navigation on its way to Japan.

Britain has previously expressed concerns about China’s dominance in the contested South China Sea.

Defence Minister Ben Wallace

Defence Minister Ben Wallace (Image: Getty)

Beijing called on the UK to desist from provocations and interference with internal politics.

The South China Sea is a highly contested region and faces claims from China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Diplomatic relations between the nations are already extremely strained.

Over recent months, Beijing has asserted its dominance in the region and has built several military bases on some of the atolls.

Speaking to the Times, Mr Wallace said: “It’s no secret that China shadows and challenges ships transiting international waters on very legitimate routes.

“We will respect China and we hope that China respects us.

“We will sail where international law allows.”

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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