Abandoning the UK's nuclear deterrent would be “gross irresponsibility” Theresa May will today warn, as Labour faces a substantial rebellion over the vote on renewing the UK's Trident submarine.
The House of Commons will today host a lengthy debate on Britain's nuclear weapons, with a vote expected at around 10.00.
And opening the debate, the Prime Minister will warn the nuclear threat has increased.
“It is impossible to say for certain that no extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life. And it would be a gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats by discarding the ultimate insurance against those risks in the future,” May will say.
“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,” she is expected to add.
The vote is expected to see upwards of 100 Labour MPs go against their leader, an avowed backer of disarmament, with rebels expected to include Jeremy Corbyn's two leadership challengers, Angela Eagle and Owen Smith.
Although Labour's formal policy is to support Britain's nuclear weapons, Labour has given its MPs a free vote today, with and shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry have urged their colleagues not to vote at all.
Writing in the Guardian, the pair described the vote as “a contemptible trick”, and argued the vote is being staged solely to further divide the Labour party.
“The Tories know that those with strongly held principles on either side of this debate will vote with their consciences, and the media will turn the event into a fresh Labour crisis,” they said.
THE FULL DEBATE MOTION
“That this House supports the Government’s assessment in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, that the UK’s independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent, based on a Continuous at Sea Deterrence posture, will remain essential to our security today as it has for over 60 years, and for as long as the global security situation demands, to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life and that of our allies; and supports the decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the current VANGUARD Class submarines with four Successor submarines; recognises the importance of this programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs; notes that the Government will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament on the programme; recognises that the UK remains committed to reduce our overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s; and supports the Government’s commitment to continue work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.”