New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: The new NATO strategic concept approved at Lisbon rightly states that, as long as other countries have nuclear weapons, so will the NATO alliance. Some of us would like to see the same thing apply to the United Kingdom. What reassurance was my right hon. Friend able to give to our NATO allies that Britain's Trident replacement programme will go ahead after the next election, given that, if the Liberal Democrats were again to hold the balance of power, that would almost certainly not happen?

[The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend and I go back years on this issue, to the time when we almost shared an office. At that time, we were fighting a very unilateralist Labour party that wanted us to give up our nuclear weapons and get nothing in return. The assurance that I can give my hon. Friend is that I believe that, while others have nuclear weapons, we should retain ours. That is why I said what I said in the statement. He is being a little unfair, however, because in this Parliament, we will be spending many tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds on the preparation for our Trident replacement – which is on schedule to go ahead – to ensure that there is continuous at-sea deterrence and no capability gap between the deterrent that we have now and the deterrent of the future. The Government, including the Liberal Democrats, are fully committed to that.]