MPs have voted to renew Trident by 472 votes to 117, with 140 Labour MPs backing the Government. The expected renewal cost of Trident is £31 billion with the new class of nuclear submarines being introduced in the 2030s.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, spoke of the advantages of renewal:
“Our national interest is clear. Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an insurance policy we simply cannot do without. We cannot compromise on our national security. We cannot outsource the grave responsibility we shoulder for keeping our people safe and we cannot abandon our ultimate safeguard out of misplaced idealism. That would be a reckless gamble: a gamble that would enfeeble our allies and embolden our enemies; a gamble with the safety and security of families in Britain that we must never be prepared to take”.
When asked by SNP MP George Kerevan whether she would press the nuclear button and potentially kill 100,000 people she replied:
“Yes. The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it, unlike the suggestion that we could have a nuclear deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which seemed to come from the Labour Front Bench”.
Jeremy Corbyn ignored advice from the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Defence Secretary to abstain in the vote, and he voted against the Government. He said in his speech:
“Many colleagues throughout the House will vote for weapons tonight because they believe they serve a useful military purpose. But to those who believe in multilateral disarmament, I ask this: is this not an unwise motion from the Government, giving no answers on costs and no answers on disarmament? For those of us who believe in aiming for a nuclear-free world, and for those who are deeply concerned about the spiralling costs, this motion has huge questions to answer, and they have failed to be addressed in this debate. If we want a nuclear weapons-free world, this is an opportunity to start down that road and try to bring others with us, as has been achieved to some extent over the past few decades. Surely we should make that effort rather than go down the road the Government are suggesting for us this evening”.