Trident: no renewal this Parliament

The BBC reports that the predicted policy has won the day:

The government says £750m ($1.2bn) will be saved over four years on the Trident nuclear deterrent missile system by cutting the number of warheads on each boat from 48 to 40 and reducing the number of missile tubes from 12 to eight. The UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile will be cut from 160 to less than 120. The final “main gate” spending decision on Trident will also be delayed until 2016 – after the next general election.

Party President Ros Scott has emailed party members, saying

Trident will not be renewed this parliament – not on a Liberal Democrat watch. Let us be clear, this is a significant victory for Liberal Democrat campaigners, and a fantastic example of what our Ministers can and do achieve in government.

But the Coalition Government is not just saying no to replacing Trident this parliament. It is going further. It is also taking important steps towards the goal of multilateral nuclear disarmament. The announcement today sees a 25% cut in warheads.

Today is yet another day that we can all feel hugely proud to be a party of government, delivering key Liberal Democrat priorities.

Ming Campbell commented on the decision saying,

Extending the life of the existing Trident fleet will not only save money in the short term; it will allow the opportunity to keep nuclear policy under review, to explore the possibilities of co-operation with the French, and even to consider other alternatives to like for like replacement of Trident.

The coalition within the coalition which won this decision contains a varied group of people – Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, unilateralists and multilateralists. But it has successfully overcome the strong lobby in the Conservative Party to continue Labour’s policy of rushing ahead with a like-for-like replacement of Trident. From what I’ve heard, it’s been the Liberal Democrat presence in the government debate that has been key to seeing that lobby lose out in the argument.

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15 Comments

  • Nick (not Clegg) 19th Oct '10 - 10:06pm

    Are we also going to be invited to be proud of the decision to scrap one aircraft carrier and to order two more, but not to order any aircraft for them to carry? That’s a strategic masterstroke comparable with one of Baldrick’s “cunning plans”.

  • Newsnight reported the decision to renew it had been taken.
    We’ll just get more detail in 2016.

  • Let us be clear, this is not a significant victory for Liberal Democrat campaigners. It is a fantastic example of what Osborne’s axemen can and do achieve in government.

  • I agree with Nick (not Clegg).

    Hooray the Tories have decided not to spend on Trident, for now. But instead are going to waste ridiculous sums on empty aircraft carriers. That’s punching above our weight…

  • This is the 1st time Britain has ever cut our Nuclear arsenal. Russia & the US have been cutting for decades, by about 60% from their peak but the UK – nothing till now. All those Labour Governments full of CND windbags did nothing to reduce Nuclear weapons, it had to wait for the coalition.

  • @Jon – we did not deice to spend the money on 2 aircraft carriers. The last Government did that and agreed a contract that can’t be cancelled.

  • John Richardson 20th Oct '10 - 9:26am

    Let us be clear, this is not a significant victory for Liberal Democrat campaigners. It is a fantastic example of what Osborne’s axemen can and do achieve in government.

    You think Osborne would be cutting warheads even if the Lib Dems were not there? I doubt it. More likely he’d be cutting welfare than warfare; like child benefit for over 16s.

  • richard heathcote 20th Oct '10 - 10:45am

    Im sorry I dont see this as any sort of lib-dem victory on trident this is a cop out. The governement have simply pushed it to the next parliament as it was likely to cause a rift in the coalition and is probably cheaper for them to do that. The commitment to replace trident is still there and in all honesty it will probably still go ahead so how is this a victory for disarmament. It actually is very similar in my mind to the argument made by the coalition regarding forgemasters in pushing an expensive commitment to the next parliament without funding plans.

  • John Richardson 20th Oct '10 - 11:41am

    And there will be a significant and permanent cut in the number of warheads. Once the numbers are cut they can never go back up without violating the NNPT.

  • richard heathcote 20th Oct '10 - 11:44am

    thats fair enough the subject will be discussed for next election which as i said before to me seems like a cop out on dealing with the issue this parliament.

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Oct '10 - 9:27pm

    we did not deice to spend the money on 2 aircraft carriers. The last Government did that and agreed a contract that can’t be cancelled.

    To be more specific: Labour signed a contract to buy the carriers, which had penalty fees for cancellation of about 20% more than the total price of the carriers, which was a profoundly stupid thing to do. Unfortunately that means the cheapest option now available is to buy them and let them rust.

    We urgently need constitutional reform which prevents governments from doing this sort of thing.

  • It will be the Americans who decide when we replace trident. Like it or not UK defence is linked to American foreign policy just as it was in the previous two world wars and without America to back us in both wars the history of 20th century for Europe would have been very different (and very Nazi or Soviet).

    America has already stuck it’s oar in prior to the Strategic Defence Review.

    Trident is a system defence spending cannot afford but spend the Tories/Labour will. Madness…

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