My position on Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent

Devolution 17 Nov 2015“Nobody wants nuclear weapons. We all want to live in a world without them. I have long believed the best way for the world to remove the threat of nuclear war is by working with our partner nations through a multilateral approach.

“The last Labour Government made important efforts towards disarmament, almost halving the number of operationally available warheads to fewer than 160 and reducing the number of deployed warheads on each submarine. It also scrapped the free-fall WE177 tactical nuclear weapons in 1998, making the UK the only recognised nuclear-armed NPT to possess just one nuclear system.

“On Monday 18 July MPs were asked to vote on renewal of the submarines, rather than the missiles themselves. In view of the fact that the House of Commons would be asked to make this decision, over a period of several weeks and months I have attended a number of briefings on the factors affecting the issue, as well as having received several written briefings from people and organisations on both sides of the argument.

“One of the most useful was the House of Commons Library research paper, Replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent, which you can find using this link

“Having taken soundings from constituents across south Bristol, I know they would not expect me to vote against Trident without there being clarity about what would go in its place in an increasingly uncertain world. They fully expect, quite rightly, that the UK continues to play a strong role in the world, and that we take our international obligations seriously.

“My greatest fear over Britain taking an irreversible unilateral stance would be that in an extremely unpredictable global situation it could endanger our country’s future national security. In an ideal world, we would not need to maintain a nuclear deterrent but sadly this isn’t one, and so I believe keeping Trident is necessary. It remains my judgement that nobody has been able to convincingly articulate what would replace it. Indeed it was very disappointing that in the 18 July debate, whilst there is an important case that can be made against renewal, this was not articulated in a credible way.

“So on balance, during the free vote that took place in the House of Commons on 18 July, I concluded I had seen or heard nothing that would make me vote against the agreed Labour Party policy to renew Trident, which also featured in the manifesto I stood on at the general election. I therefore voted in favour of renewal.”

Karin Smyth MP