UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 5:23 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader 5:23 pm, 18th July 2016

I suppose we should ask ourselves whether that “safe space” is the House of Commons. We are none the wiser. We have asked again and again and again. I am looking at the Defence Secretary again and he has the opportunity to intervene on me now to tell Parliament how much money his Government wish to invest in the Successor programme. Update, there came none.

It is not just about the cost; for us in Scotland, it is also about democracy. The people of Scotland have shown repeatedly, clearly and consistently that we are opposed to the renewal of nuclear weapons. When the SNP went to the country—the electorate—on an explicitly anti-Trident manifesto commitment, we won elections in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2016. I am delighted to be joined on the Front Bench by my hon. Friend Brendan O'Hara, who represents Faslane and Coulport because the electorate of Argyll and Bute preferred an SNP parliamentarian, elected on a non-Trident platform, to a Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat MP.

However, this is much, much more than an issue of party political difference, because in Scottish public and civic life, from the Scottish Trades Union Congress, to Scotland’s Churches—the Church of Scotland and the Bishops’ Conference, which issued a statement this week—to the Scottish Parliament, which has voted on the subject, all have voted or called for opposition to Trident renewal. There is cross-party support from not just the SNP, but the Greens and Scottish Labour. Almost every single one of Scotland’s MPs will vote tonight against Trident’s replacement.

It is an indictment of the new Administration that the first motion in Parliament is on renewing Trident when there are so many other pressing issues facing the country in the context of Brexit. It is obscene that the priority of this Government, and, sadly, too many people on the Labour Benches, at a time of Tory austerity and economic uncertainty following the EU referendum, is to spend billions of pounds on outdated nuclear weapons that we do not want, do not need and could never use. With debt, deficit and borrowing levels forecast to get worse after Brexit, and with more than £40 billion to be cut from public services by 2020, spending £167 billion, £179 billion, or £205 billion—whatever the number is that the Government are not prepared tell us—is an outrage. The Prime Minister’s first vote is on Trident. In the current climate, that is totally wrong. It is the wrong approach to key priorities. We should be working to stabilise the economy and sorting out the chaos caused by the Brexit result.

The Prime Minister has already undermined the words of her first speech, which many people, across all parties, found important. She vowed to fight “burning injustice”, and we agree, but Trident fights no injustices. Trident is an immoral, obscene and redundant weapons system.

The vote on Trident is one of the most important this Parliament will ever take, and the Government have an obligation to inform the public about such a massive decision—they have failed to do that. The Labour Opposition is facing three ways at the same time and letting the Government get away with this. We in the SNP are absolutely clear in our opposition to Trident. We would not commit to spending hundreds of billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction, particularly at a time when this Government are making significant cuts to public services—it would be morally and economically indefensible.