We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 3:16 pm on 10th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee 3:16 pm, 10th April 2019

Absolutely. If we get into a situation where the United States and the NATO alliance are paralysed in the face of dictatorships armed even with a few mass-destruction weapons that cannot be neutralised by the threat of retaliation, there would be no prospect of our mounting a defence of any country under attack, anywhere in the world, no matter how deserving it might be of our military intervention.

The third argument is that the United Kingdom has traditionally played a more important and decisive role in preserving freedom than other medium-sized states have been able or willing to play. Democratic countries without nuclear weapons have little choice but to declare themselves neutral and hope for the best or, alternatively, to rely upon the nuclear umbrella of powerful allies. The United Kingdom is already a nuclear power and is also much harder to defeat by conventional means because of our physical separation from the continent.

The fourth argument is that our prominence as the principal ally of the United States, our strategic geographical position and the fact that we are obviously the junior partner might tempt an aggressor to think of attacking us separately. Given the difficulty of overrunning the United Kingdom with conventional forces, in contrast to our more vulnerable allies on the continent, an aggressor could be tempted to use one or more mass-destruction weapons against us on the assumption that the United States might not reply on our behalf. Even if that assumption were false, the attacker would find out his mistake when, and only when, it was too late for all concerned. An independently controlled British nuclear deterrent massively reduces the prospect of such a fatal miscalculation.

The final military argument is that no quantity of conventional forces can compensate for the military disadvantage that faces a non-nuclear country in a war against a nuclear-armed enemy. The atomic bombing of Japan is especially instructive not only because the Emperor was forced to surrender but because of the reverse scenario. Imagine if Japan had developed atomic bombs in the summer of 1945 and the allies had not. An invasion to end the war would then have been completely impossible.