May: Trident row proves Labour can’t be trusted

20 May

Jeremy Corbyn has restated Labour’s commitment to renewing the nuclear deterrent after his shadow foreign secretary suggested the party could withdraw its support.

Emily Thornberry said she could not confirm the missile system would remain as Labour policy after a post-election review of the UK’s defence needs.

But the frontbencher was slapped down by pro-Trident shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith, and also by Mr Corbyn.

Amid the controversy, the Prime Minister accused Labour of being equivocal on defence.

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Theresa May on the campaign trail with party candidate Joy Morrissey in west London
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Theresa May on the campaign trail with party candidate Joy Morrissey in west London

Mrs May said: “We have seen yet again that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would not be unequivocally committed to the Trident nuclear deterrent.

“They would not be able to defend this country. A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could not be trusted with the defence of our country.”

The UK currently has four Trident submarines that carry nuclear missiles.

Mr Corbyn said: “The manifesto makes it very clear that the Labour Party has come to a decision and is committed to Trident. We’re also going to look at the real security needs of this country on other areas such as cybersecurity.”

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HMS Vengeance
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HMS Vengeance is one of the UK’s four nuclear-armed submarines

A party source said “Trident will be renewed come what may” – and explained the nuclear deterrent’s inclusion in a Labour government’s strategic defence review would be to look at issues such as “costings” and how it should be shielded from cyberattacks.

Speaking to LBC radio on Friday, 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, Ms Thornberry said: “Well no, of course not, if you are going to have a review, you have to have a review.”

Ms Griffith told BBC’s Newsnight: “Nobody has raised the issue of removing the Trident nuclear deterrent from our manifesto.”

She added: “With all due respect, Emily is not the shadow defence secretary – I am.”

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Emily Thornberry
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Emily Thornberry has described herself as ‘sceptical’ about Trident

Asked if Ms Thornberry was wrong, Ms Griffith said: “Indeed. Last year we looked at it, in particular, at the national policy forum and it was decided that we would keep the nuclear deterrent and that was reaffirmed at our conference in September.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “At a time when we are being told there is not enough money to protect pensioners, the Government seems able to find billions upon billions of pounds to renew Trident nuclear weapons, again that’s the wrong priority.”

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