Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Losing Trident Is a Gamble UK Can't Take, Says Minister

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Losing Trident Is a Gamble UK Can't Take, Says Minister

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

DEFENCE SECRETARY Michael Fallon today warned that abandoning Britain's nuclear deterrent was a "gamble we simply can't afford to take".

Ahead of MPs voting on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system, the Cabinet minister also defended the PS31 billion cost amid fears that it could spiral even higher.

He spoke out as Labour splits on the deterrent were laid bare with many MPs at odds with their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Despite calls to scale back the deterrent, Mr Fallon told BBC radio: "Our view, Theresa May's view, the Government's view, and in fact both major political parties at the last election is that this is a gamble we simply can't afford to take."

On fears that the final bill could soar far higher, he added: "We updated the cost at the strategic defence review just before Christmas and PS31 billion is our latest estimate of what the four boats are going to cost.

"Remember, these are four boats that are going to deploy the missiles for a 30-year period throughout the 2030s, the 2040s, and the 2050s so you need to see the cost against that 30-year timescale."

More than 100 Labour MPs, including plain-speaking Pontypridd MP Owen Smith, were expected to vote to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system.

But Mr Corbyn, a vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was set to oppose the move. A third group of Labour MPs, including shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, were due to abstain.

Defending his decision, Mr Smith, who quit recently as shadow work and pensions secretary, stressed he believed the world was now a "more risky, more unpredictable than it has been in our lifetimes".

However, pressed on Sky News that he had been a CND member, he responded: "Well I was a teenager when I was a member of CND and I've long since grown up and I now know that I don't think we can afford to divest ourselves of nuclear weapons right now. …

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