Jeremy Corbyn was grilled over nuclear weapons on Question Time and provoked a fierce debate
The Labour leader was harangued repeatedly over whether he’d be willing to push the nuclear button.
Jeremy Corbyn struggled on Question Time when asked if he’d be willing to use Trident, the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
Asked how he would react if Britain was under imminent threat from nuclear weapons, the Labour leader said: “I think the idea of anyone ever using a nuclear weapon anywhere in the world is utterly appalling and terrible.”
But as presenter David Dimblebly pressed Corbyn to answer the question directly, a fierce debate broke out on social media.
Corbyn, who has campaigned for nuclear disarmament for most of his political career, eventually said it would depend on the scenario.
He’d earlier said: “I would do everything I can to ensure that any threat is actually dealt with earlier on by negotiations and by talks, so that we do adhere to our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”
But for some people this seemed unrealistic.
And as the questions on using nuclear weapons, which Labour has committed to renewing in their manifesto, kept coming, things became increasingly uncomfortable for Corbyn.
Corbyn is on the ropes -his stance on security is what may sway people's minds during that quiet moment in the polling booth #bbcqt— Matthew Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 2, 2017
Corbyn heckled repeatedly over his Trident position. #BBCQT— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) June 2, 2017
The Trident line of questioning really is Corbyn's weakest point. This is tough for him #bbcqt— Political Tumult (@PoliticalTumult) June 2, 2017
This was Piers Morgan’s take…
So a rogue state nukes London then prepares to nuke Birmingham & Sheffield.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 2, 2017
Corbyn would do nothing to stop them. #bbcqt
While Gary Lineker had this to say.
Seems a lot of folk like the idea of nuclear war. Can't see the positives, personally.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 2, 2017
Before he responded directly to Morgan, who had said that “if you commit £150 billion of taxpayer money to a nuclear defence, you must be prepared to use it. No?”
Yeah, it would be a complete waste of money if we don't kill millions and destroy the planet. https://t.co/q5QC31Fvx3— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 2, 2017
Corbyn said he “would view the idea of having to use a nuclear weapon as something that was resulting in a failure in the whole world’s diplomatic system.”
One audience member asked if he would “allow North Korea or some idiot in Iran to bomb us and then say ‘We’d better start talking’.”
Corbyn said: “Of course not, that is why I made the point … about the need for president Obama’s agreement with Iran to be upheld, it’s quite important actually, and also to promote disarmament in Korea.”
“That is difficult, I appreciate,” he added.
And while plenty were happy to harangue him for his stance on nuclear weapons, many felt reassured by someone who wasn’t able to say if he’d be happy potentially killing millions of people.
When the only time a man looks shaken is when you're berating him for not wanting to kill millions of people he can't be that bad. #bbcqt— Dan B (@DanBTweets) June 2, 2017
For everyone who thinks it's appalling that Corbyn doesn't want to use nuclear weapons - what's actually wrong with you? #bbcqt— ZJ Fox (@ZackFoxFilm) June 2, 2017
We should be more worried about a leader would press the nuclear button and kill millions of people #bbcqt— Maya Goodfellow (@MayaGoodfellow) June 2, 2017
Really don't understand the obsession with wanting to know if your PM would be happy with killing thousands of innocents #bbcqt— Miss Boom (@AishhBoom) June 2, 2017
Others thought the whole discussion was entirely pointless.
Why are people so desperate to nuke everyone? Let's get back to debating social care, schools, housing etc. #bbcqt— Jane (@Bristol_Jane) June 2, 2017
"But what about the reality of this hypothetical world-ending situation I've just made up?" #bbcqt— Nathaniel Tapley (@Natt) June 2, 2017
HEY CORBYN! WHAT IF GODZILLA ATTACKED? WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN? #bbcqt— Tom Ruzyllo (@truzyllo) June 2, 2017
Let's focus on a hypothetical debate about a weapon we would never use instead of actual issues we face in this country! #bbcqt— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) June 2, 2017
The nuclear section of the show did eventually come to a close, thanks in large part to an audience member.
“I don’t understand why everyone in this room seems so keen on killing millions of people with a nuclear bomb”, she said, before asking a question on immigration and moving the debate on.
Other issues Corbyn covered in the programme, which saw Theresa May take questions from the studio audience ahead of and separately from the Labour leader, included health, small businesses, immigration and Brexit.
His overall message can be summed up in answer given to a question about whether the Labour manifesto is realistic.
Corbyn said: “We have to respect the needs of people and challenge all of us to say that if we want to live in a society that genuinely cares for all, we’ve got to be prepared to deal with issues of inequality and pay for it. And I’m prepared to do that.”
“Our manifesto is a serious, well thought-out document, that I believe is getting a lot of support and people are getting very excited at the idea of how we can do things differently,” he added.