UK's Nuclear Deterrent

Part of Terrorist Attack: Nice – in the House of Commons at 7:38 pm on 18th July 2016.

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Photo of Ben Howlett Ben Howlett Conservative, Bath 7:38 pm, 18th July 2016

I have ended up following Mr Lammy on several occasions, but I will not break the mould by agreeing with him tonight and will be voting with the Government after listening to some of the most powerful speeches that I have heard in this place for a long time. The hon. Members for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) and for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins) made passionate cases and, as someone who listens to debates, I can say that their cases have been heard clearly tonight.

Today’s vote is one of the biggest tests for Britain and her place in the world. Given the events of the last few weeks, if we get this wrong, Britain’s place at the heart of an internationalist world could be put at risk. No one can predict the future of our international relations over the coming decades, and the challenges that we face as a nation are tremendous. We face exciting but uncertain times ahead as we carve out Britain’s new position in the world. For me, in the interests of national security, to maintain Britain’s seat at the top table and for the defence of the United Kingdom, it is crucial that strong armed forces are accompanied by a strong nuclear deterrent. I therefore wholeheartedly back the renewal of Trident.

I want to take a moment to thank all our servicemen and women who devote their lives to the security of our nation. We need to do all that we can to ensure that their lives are not put in danger. A strong nuclear deterrent works as a means of promoting peace, co-operation and discourse in a very uncertain world.

I want to look back to the cold war and the effect the presence of nuclear deterrents had on its progress. During the period, there were very many small deadly conflicts where there were no nuclear weapons present, yet the big superpowers were encouraged to avoid hot war at all costs for fear of those deadly weapons being activated. I am not saying that the presence of nuclear weapons will ensure our safety on their own, but if they can have even a small deterrent effect on saving the lives of troops and protecting the United Kingdom, they are a sensible thing to have.

It is important in debates such as this that we remain realistic about future developments on the international stage. If we look at some of the world’s key aggressors such as North Korea, we will see that they are advancing towards the creation of a nuclear warhead. If we were to have no nuclear arsenal or one that was not world leading, we may not face a problem in the here and now, but a few decades on, we may come to a situation in which states may be more inclined to attack the UK, knowing that we cannot answer in the same way.