UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 4:15 pm, 18th July 2016

I beg to move,

That this House
supports the Government’s assessment in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review that the UK’s independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent, based on a Continuous at Sea Deterrence posture, will remain essential to the UK's security today as it has for over 60 years, and for as long as the global security situation demands, to deter the most extreme threats to the UK's national security and way of life and that of the UK's allies;
supports the decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the current Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines;
recognises the importance of this programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs;
notes that the Government will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament on the programme;
recognises that the UK remains committed to reducing its overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s;
and supports the Government’s commitment to continue work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.

The Home Secretary has just made a statement about the attack in Nice, and I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those killed and injured in last Thursday’s utterly horrifying attack in Nice—innocent victims brutally murdered by terrorists who resent the freedoms that we treasure and want nothing more than to destroy our way of life.

This latest attack in France, compounding the tragedies of the Paris attacks in January and November last year, is another grave reminder of the growing threats that Britain and all our allies face from terrorism. On Friday I spoke to President Hollande and assured him that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people, as we have done so often in the past. We will never be cowed by terror. Though the battle against terrorism may be long, these terrorists will be defeated, and the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité will prevail.

I should also note the serious events over the weekend in Turkey. We have firmly condemned the attempted coup by certain members of the Turkish military, which began on Friday evening. Britain stands firmly in support of Turkey’s democratically elected Government and institutions. We call for the full observance of Turkey’s constitutional order and stress the importance of the rule of law prevailing in the wake of this failed coup. Everything must be done to avoid further violence, to protect lives and to restore calm. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked around the clock to provide help and advice to the many thousands of British nationals on holiday or working in Turkey at this time. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister, and I expect to speak to President Erdogan shortly.

Before I turn to our nuclear deterrent, I am sure the House will welcome the news that Japan’s SoftBank Group intends to acquire UK tech firm ARM Holdings. I have spoken to SoftBank directly. It has confirmed its commitment to keep the company in Cambridge and to invest further to double the number of UK jobs over five years. This £24 billion investment would be the largest ever Asian investment in the UK. It is a clear demonstration that Britain is open for business—as attractive to international investment as ever.

There is no greater responsibility as Prime Minister than ensuring the safety and security of our people. That is why I have made it my first duty in this House to move today’s motion so that we can get on with the job of renewing an essential part of our national security for generations to come.

For almost half a century, every hour of every day, our Royal Navy nuclear submarines have been patrolling the oceans, unseen and undetected, fully armed and fully ready—our ultimate insurance against nuclear attack. Our submariners endure months away from their families, often without any contact with their loved ones, training relentlessly for a duty they hope never to carry out. I hope that, whatever our views on the deterrent, we can today agree on one thing: that our country owes an enormous debt of gratitude to all our submariners and their families for the sacrifices they make in keeping us safe. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”]

As a former Home Secretary, I am familiar with the threats facing our country. In my last post, I was responsible for counter-terrorism for over six years. I received daily operational intelligence briefings about the threats to our national security, I chaired a weekly security meeting with representatives of all the country’s security and intelligence agencies, military and police, and I received personal briefings from the director-general of MI5. Over those six years as Home Secretary I focused on the decisions needed to keep our people safe, and that remains my first priority as Prime Minister.

The threats that we face are serious, and it is vital for our national interest that we have the full spectrum of our defences at full strength to meet them. That is why, under my leadership, this Government will continue to meet our NATO obligation to spend 2% of our GDP on defence. We will maintain the most significant security and military capability in Europe, and we will continue to invest in all the capabilities set out in the strategic defence and security review last year. We will meet the growing terrorist threat coming from Daesh in Syria and Iraq, from Boko Haram in Nigeria, from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, from al-Shabaab in east Africa, and from other terrorist groups planning attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We will continue to invest in new capabilities to counter threats that do not recognise national borders, including by remaining a world leader in cyber-security.

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