Coalition clash over Trident replacement

THE CONSERVATIVES and Labour yesterday joined forces to attack a Lib Dem-commissioned report which proposed ways of cutting back the size of the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

The report, written by Whitehall civil servants at the bidding of the junior coalition party, says the existing four Trident submarines could be replaced with just three new vessels while still posing a credible threat.

Lib Dem Treasury minister Danny Alexander, whose party have a long-standing opposition to the Trident replacement programme, said savings could be made by “ending 24-hour patrols when we don’t need them and buying fewer submarines”.

But both major parties ganged up to insist that only a like-for-like replacement would suffice, in a move that is good news for BAE Systems, whose Barrow-in-Furness shipyards are favourites to win the contract to build the replacement.

The final decision on how to deal with the ageing fleet of Trident submarines will be made in 2016, after the next general election.