Corbyn ridiculed in new row on nuclear deterrent
Published 18/01/2016 | 02:30
A furious new row has erupted within the British Labour party after Jeremy Corbyn suggested the UK could retain its Trident nuclear missile submarines, but they would go to sea without their warheads.
The plan appeared designed to win over trade unions who fear that scrapping Trident - as the Labour leader wishes - would destroy tens of thousands of jobs in the defence industry.
But the proposal was greeted with derision by pro-Trident Labour MPs, while the Conservatives said it showed that Labour was a "threat to national security".
Mr Corbyn floated the idea during a wide-ranging interview in which he suggested opening up a line of communication with Islamic State, also referred to as Isil, and called for a "sensible dialogue" with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
Appearing on BBC One's 'The Andrew Marr Show', he also pledged to repeal Conservative trade union laws banning sympathy strikes and did not rule out allowing the return of flying pickets.
On Trident, Mr Corbyn reiterated his long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons, but pointed out that the submarines that carry the Trident missiles could be deployed without their nuclear warheads on board.
But any hopes by the leadership that it would defuse potentially the most divisive issue facing the party were quickly dashed as pro-Trident MPs rushed to pour scorn on the plan.
John Woodcock, the MP for Barrow and Furness, where the replacement submarines will be built, said it was implausible.
"Having a deterrent that has no ability to deter because it has no missiles is like having an army with broken rifles and no ammunition," he said.
Mr Corbyn risked further controversy with his suggestion that there could be a line of communication with Isil - drawing comparisons with the "back channel" between the government and the IRA during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.