UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Conservative, South West Wiltshire 6:07 pm, 18th July 2016

I rise to support the motion, and I do so joylessly and with a heavy heart. Nobody can stand in a missile compartment of a ballistic submarine without a sense of terrible awe; our warheads have the capacity to destroy 40 million people. I know that everyone in the Chamber feels that responsibility extremely acutely, and that certainly goes for my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench and their predecessors.

I spent much of my 20-year naval career at the tail end of the cold war. The cold war is over, however, and one can say it was won. The cold war did not become a real war, in part because of the terrible weapons that we are discussing this afternoon. We must not be preparing to fight the last war. Right hon. and hon. Members throughout the House are right to say that tomorrow’s wars are likely to be asymmetric wars, hybrid wars, wars involving terrorism, or conflicts involving climate change that, as we sit here, we really cannot fully understand. However, simply because those threats exist, that does not mean that nuclear blackmail does not and will not exist.

I fully accept that there are shades of grey in this debate. I absolutely reject the absolutist positions taken by some commentators, and I fully understand and respect arguments in relation to opportunity costs, but we have to make a decision now. We have been here several times before. In 2006, under the Labour party, we conducted what was appropriately called a deep dive. In 2013, very largely thanks to the Liberal Democrats—it pains me to say so, but it is nevertheless true—we undertook an alternatives review and dealt with many of the issues involved. I have no doubt that we will discuss this afternoon the alternatives considered at that time.

In the time available, I would like to speak briefly about the two propositions of redundancy and reputation. Those are respectable arguments that deserve to be dealt with properly.