Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Newspaper column 20 July 2016 - Trident

Speaking at the Nato summit in Warsaw earlier this month, one of the last actions of David Cameron as Prime Minister was his announcement that MPs would vote on 18 July on renewing the UK's Trident nuclear weapons programme.

The Trident nuclear programme covers the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them for our country.

The former Prime Minister has said that he believes the vote will confirm support for replacing and upgrading the current systems, calling Trident an "essential deterrent" to both Britain's security and the overall security of NATO.

I believe it is absolutely vital that we maintain a continuous independent nuclear deterrent as the ultimate guarantee of our national security. The Government has consistently set out the case for maintaining our nuclear deterrent. Of course all of us would wish that we could live in a world without nuclear weapons. However, it is clear that the world today is becoming an ever more dangerous and in many ways unstable place to live. I believe firmly that we cannot dismiss the possibility that a major direct nuclear threat to the UK might re-emerge. This alone is a powerful reason for the retention and renewal of Trident.

There are various claims about the cost of renewing Trident. This current commitment represents a cost of £31billion over 35 years. This is 0.2% of our overall defence spending and the full cost of the Trident programme is only 6% of our defence budget. I believe this puts the cost of this piece of our military capability into perspective and represents value for money for the tax payer.

Despite successes over recent decades in limiting the number of states with nuclear capabilities, we still cannot rule out, particularly in these turbulent times, a major shift in the international security situation which would put us under grave threat. We should not abdicate our roll in the world and ‘outsource’ this part of our defence to other nations with nuclear capabilities. We need to stand together with our allies and demonstrated out commitment. That is why I do not believe, particularly under the current circumstances, that it would be right to give up this capability.

The Government's policy has been to retain the Trident continuous nuclear deterrent, where there is always one of our four nuclear submarines armed and at sea, to provide the ultimate deterrent to anyone threatening the UK. This will also secure thousands of highly-skilled engineering jobs in the UK.

I fully support the renewal of our nation’s own nuclear deterrent in the form of the Trident missile system and voted for this on Monday. This is the only sensible policy for ensuring our country’s future security. This I believe is the first priority of any government.

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