Britain’s nuclear deterrent could be scrapped as part of a Coalition deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, a senior MP has warned.
By Matthew Holehouse
Telegraph Online – 19 September 2013
Dr Julian Lewis has called for the Ministry of Defence to bring forward a deal to renew the Trident submarine missile system, in order to prevent it being scrapped as part of a deal after the 2015 election.
The Liberal Democrats this weekend voted to radically cut back the £110bn Trident system from four submarines to two. The vessels would travel unarmed and only carry warheads during times of international tension.
Currently one on Vanguard-class submarine is armed and at sea at once, while the others are maintained or on training exercises. The system is intended to deter a nuclear attack because enemy powers would be unable to destroy a nuclear-armed submarine hidden at sea.
Dr Lewis, a Conservative MP and author of a number of papers on nuclear strategy, said the Liberal Democrats' "Alice in Wonderland" strategy would leave Britain vulnerable to attack. Britain may have little warning of a nuclear attack and, if it did, there is no guarantee that a submarine would be able to reach its base and be armed in time to ward off an attack. As a result, the proposal increases the risk of nuclear war, Dr Lewis argues.
MPs voted to renew Trident in 2007, and £3bn of development and design work has taken place since. But the Government has delayed the ultimate decision on whether to order new submarines until after the next election. Dr Lewis says that decision should be taken now to prevent Ed Miliband agreeing to scrap Trident. Many Labour MPs back unilateral disarmament, and a large number of Liberal Democrats want the system scrapped entirely.
"If the Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power in 2015, will they stand by their commitment to a toothless and vulnerable Trident successor, or will they come out in their true unilateralist colours – demanding its scrapping altogether as part of the price of coalition?
"What would Ed Miliband do, if scrapping this single weapons system were all that stood between him and the keys to 10 Downing Street?"
David Cameron has maintained Britain needs to keep its nuclear weapons as an "insurance policy" against attacks.