• Nia Griffith, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, was incorrect to suggest Trident could be scrapped
  • Miss Griffith insisted Labour was ‘fully committed’ to the nuclear deterrent
  • The row overshadowed leader Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Birmingham today  

Thomas Burrows for MailOnline

Labour’s nuclear policy is in disarray as a member of the party’s front bench team flatly contradicted a colleague’s stance on Trident.

Nia Griffith, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said Emily Thornberry, who speaks on foreign affairs for the party, was incorrect to suggest the missile defence system could be scrapped.

Miss Griffith insisted Labour was ‘fully committed’ to the nuclear deterrent.

The row overshadowed Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Birmingham where he today accused Conservatives of risking a ‘war between generations’ with a manifesto that pitches young against old.

The row overshadowed the Labour leader's visit to Birmingham today

The row overshadowed the Labour leader's visit to Birmingham today

The row overshadowed the Labour leader’s visit to Birmingham today

The rift started when Ms Griffith was asked on BBC Two’s Newsnight about an interview with Ms Thornberry earlier this week in which she appeared to suggest Trident could be canned after a review, should Labour win the General Election.

‘Well with all due respect, Emily is not the shadow defence secretary, I am,’ said Ms Griffith.

‘And we had a long meeting on Thursday at which we agreed the manifesto and nobody has raised the issue of removing the Trident nuclear deterrent from our manifesto.

‘That was agreed last year that we would have it as part of our defence review, that we had last year… We are absolutely committed to it.’

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry  described herself as 'sceptical' about Trident

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry  described herself as 'sceptical' about Trident

Nia Griffith insisted Labour was 'fully committed' to the nuclear deterrent

Nia Griffith insisted Labour was 'fully committed' to the nuclear deterrent

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry (left)  described herself as ‘sceptical’ about Trident but Nia Griffith (right) insisted Labour was ‘fully committed’ to the nuclear deterrent

Asked if Ms Thornberry was wrong, she added: ‘Indeed…because last year we looked at it in particular at the national policy forum and it was decided we would keep the nuclear deterrent and that was reaffirmed at our conference in September.

‘I’m being very clear. We made a commitment back in 2007 to renew the Trident nuclear deterrent and that is our position.’

She added: ‘I was at the manifesto meeting and…not one query was raised about the nuclear Trident deterrent.’ 

Ms Griffith’s stance was backed by Labour’s candidate for Barrow and Furness, where the Trident subs are being built. 

John Woodcock said Ms Thornberry’s comments were ‘unfortunate’ but would have no impact as Labour will not win the election.

Mr Woodcock, who has previously said he could not support Mr Corbyn for prime minister, said Trident renewal had already passed the ‘point of no return’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The policy on this is settled. There’s a defence review at the start of every parliament. I think the Conservative government will do one when they return to office after June 8.

‘This is a very unusual situation for the country to be in, but I have taken the decision to be honest and say that we know nationally what the result of this election is going to be.

‘We know that Theresa May called this election because she’s 20 points ahead in the polls and she’s going to be Prime Minister after the election.’

The Labour leader today described the Conservative manifesto as a 'typical nasty party attempt to set generations against each other'

The Labour leader today described the Conservative manifesto as a 'typical nasty party attempt to set generations against each other'

The Labour leader today described the Conservative manifesto as a ‘typical nasty party attempt to set generations against each other’

Mr Woodcock said it was ‘unfortunate’ Ms Thornberry’s comments would distract from Labour’s efforts to exploit Conservative vulnerability on domestic issues like the treatment of pensioners.

‘Labour is going to be in opposition and the important thing is that we have as strong an opposition as we can and we don’t allow a Tory landslide because of all the other things on domestic policy where they will do damage,’ he said.

‘I’m pleased to say I’m not the person who can explain what is in Emily Thornberry’s mind at any particular moment. But it is unfortunate she said what she did because it creates confusion when in fact there is none about our policy, and we should be talking about the damage the Tories would do domestically.’ 

Labour’s leadership has said Trident will be covered in a defence review if Mr Corbyn – a long-standing campaigner for nuclear disarmament – was in Number 10.

The policy set by party conference is to support Trident, but Ms Thornberry – who described herself as ‘sceptical’ about Trident – said she could not guarantee what the outcome of the review would be.

Asked if she could confirm the missile system would remain as Labour policy following the review, she told LBC radio: ‘Well no, of course not, if you are going to have a review, you have to have a review.’

She added: ‘Overwhelmingly we need to make sure that our policy is up to date and meets 21st century threats and no one can disagree with that, surely?

‘You know there was a time when we gave up on sabres or horses, you need to keep updating your defence policy and meeting the most pressing and most obvious needs.’

 

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