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

My hon. Friend is saying that the Labour tradition is to support our armed forces, and I totally agree. The manifesto that I and the Leader of the Opposition stood on was also voted on, and 9.3 million members of the electorate supported it. The argument in tonight’s motion is identical to what was in that manifesto. It is ironic that we are having a free vote, since my hon. Friend Maria Eagle put that argument to the Leader of the Opposition in 2015 and it resulted in her removal from the Labour Front Bench. Unfortunately I, too, had no option but to resign.

The alternatives review by my hon. Friend Emily Thornberry has been going on for the past seven months. Much airtime has been given to it, but not a single word has yet been published. It is a bit like the mythical unicorn—people believe it exists, but it has never actually been sighted.

The important point about our deterrent is security, but we cannot forget about the jobs it brings. I am proud to support both Unite and GMB members who work in the industry. They are professional, skilled and dedicated in their work. I challenge those who vote against the motion tonight to look those workers directly in the eye and tell them what the alternatives are for their communities—not empty promises of jobs tomorrow or in the future, but what will happen now.

My party has a proud track record in government on disarmament, to which I am committed, and I am glad the motion contains a commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament. More important for our nation at this time, however, is that walking away from our commitments to our NATO partners would be a fundamental mistake. It would indicate that we were withdrawing from the world, and we cannot afford to do that. Voting for the motion is in the long tradition of my party, which believes in the security of our nation. My party is committed to a peaceful and outward-looking world, and to ensuring that what we do in this House makes a difference and improves people’s lives. That cannot be done unless we have security.