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Trident Renewal

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 20th January 2015.

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Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Wales) 4:49 pm, 20th January 2015

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, which brings me to the next part of my speech—the defence and security justifications for Trident renewal. Again, the arguments do not properly stack up. If the UK did not already possess nuclear weapons and I were to stand here today and argue for us to spend £100 billion on them, I do not believe anyone would support me. Trident is not an independent deterrent. The software, hardware and expertise are all provided by the US. Indeed, the UK could not fire Trident, heaven forbid, without the permission of the US. Supporters of Trident renewal will say that the world is a dangerous place, and that spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons offers peace of mind. “The first duty of Government is the security of its people, and the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place,” they will say. “Nuclear weapons are the ultimate insurance policy.”

Those are both arguments that we have heard during today’s debate. Yet this line of argument ignores the current strategic security challenges that the UK faces, and spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons is a dereliction of duty in the face of those challenges. In addition, to describe nuclear weapons as an insurance policy is an odd turn of phrase, given that insurance policies are designed to pay out after an undesirable event has taken place, not to prevent it from happening in the first place. If nuclear weapons were ever used, the consequences would be catastrophic.