New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis: What recent discussions has the Prime Minister had with the Leader of the Opposition on the future of the nuclear deterrent?

The Prime Minister: Although I have discussions on many issues with the Leader of the Opposition, the nuclear deterrent has not recently been one of them. That is partly because the Government's policy is absolutely clear: we are committed to retaining an independent nuclear deterrent based on Trident. My right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary will make a statement to Parliament today announcing our decision to proceed with initial gate.

Dr Lewis: I am grateful to the Prime Minister for repeating our commitment to the future of Trident, its renewal and a continuous at-sea deterrent. Would he give his blessing to hon. Members in the Conservative party and on the Labour Benches who, like him, think that the nuclear deterrent should be above party politics, if they formed an alliance on this important issue, just as we did so successfully on the alternative vote?

The Prime Minister: I agree with my hon. Friend that it would be better if we could elevate this issue above party politics. Indeed, when we voted to go ahead with Trident it was on the basis of a Labour motion that was supported by most Labour MPs and almost all Conservative MPs. However, I have a feeling that my hon. Friend would never be satisfied, even if I placed a Trident submarine in the Solent, opposite his constituency, and handed him the codes – something, I am afraid, that I am simply not prepared to do.

[To view this amusing exchange, click here, and move the cursor to the 16 min, 35 sec point.]