UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham 6:15 pm, 18th July 2016

I rise to support the motion. There are those who do not agree with my position, including in my own party, and I do not disagree that they have the right to hold their position. I respect their position; I do not question their motives, and I believe that people can argue from an alternative position to mine. Unfortunately, respect is something of a rarity in our political landscape at the moment, and it saddens me to say that that includes people in my own party.

Our independent nuclear deterrent has its origins in the great radical and reforming 1945 Labour Government. Political giants of my party took the decision that the UK should develop its own nuclear weapon. They saw that as being vital for our nation’s security against the rising threat from the Soviet bloc and the uncertain world they faced. That commitment to our national security, while pursuing a policy of outward-looking international engagement, has been a cornerstone of Labour’s position, and it is universally shared by our supporters.

Today we face an uncertain world, and some of the threats that we face are the same as those faced by our forebears in 1945. Those threats include state-on-state conflict and a resurgent Russia that is now wedded not to communist ideology and doctrine but to a crude nationalism that has no respect for international boundaries or laws. Russia has a clear path to increasing its military spending and its nuclear arsenal, and it has a doctrine of spheres of influence reminiscent of the 1940s. We also face threats such as Islamic terrorism, global warming and economic uncertainty. Is there one silver bullet to resolve all those threats? No, there is not, but the retention of our nuclear deterrent is vital to resist the threat of a resurgent Russia that is developing its nuclear weapons.

The Leader of the Opposition has portrayed today the uncertainty about the Labour party position. In the last Parliament I was asked by the then Leader of the Opposition to conduct a review of our deterrent. We met 28 stakeholders from all sides of the debate—including my right hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn, who was then chair of Labour CND—and that resulted in a report of more than 35,000 words. The report built on the work of the Defence Committee, the Labour Government’s 2006 White Paper and the Trident alternatives review. All the evidence that was taken came to the conclusion that replacing our Vanguard-class submarines was the only alternative. That report fed into our policy review and was adopted at our 2014 conference. That is the policy that I stood under, as did every other Labour candidate, including my right hon. Friend.