Tuesday 24 April 2018

May warns scrapping UK's Trident nuclear deterrent would be 'sheer madness'

British Home Secretary Theresa May. Photo: PA
British Home Secretary Theresa May. Photo: PA

Peter Dominiczak and Steven Swinford

Theresa May has warned it would be "sheer madness" to give up Britain's nuclear deterrent and all four of its submarines must be replaced.

She has warned that UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, should use a Nato summit in Poland later this week to tell Britain's allies that the British government is committed to Trident and "playing our full role in the world".

The warning is likely to further deepen divisions in Labour, with Jeremy Corbyn opposed to maintaining support for the Trident programme.

"While it is true that the terrorist threat we face has grown more serious, it does not mean we no longer face a threat from conventional enemies in the forms of other nation states," Ms May said in a newspaper article.

"It would be sheer madness to contemplate even for a moment giving up Britain's independent nuclear deterrent. And there is no room for compromise, and no room for cheese paring.

"We need a full fleet of four submarines, capable between them of providing what the military call 'Continuous At Sea Deterrence', or permanent, around-the-clock cover. Doing so will send an important message that, as Britain leaves the European Union, we remain committed to working alongside our Nato allies and playing our full role in the world.

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"That is what I know the prime minister and Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, will be telling our allies when they attend the Warsaw Summit this week.

"The House of Commons should, before the summer recess, vote on Britain's next-generation nuclear deterrent - and we should get on with getting it built."

Ms May's allies want to position her as the leadership candidate who is best-placed to protect national security.

"With such a diverse and rapidly changing terrorist threat, I know that some people say we should question some of the received wisdom when it comes to Britain's defence and security," she added.

"With the danger mainly coming from terrorist organisations, they say, the need for significant, conventional military forces has changed.

"With other nation states no longer the main concern, they argue, the need for Britain to retain its own nuclear deterrent is no more. I disagree."

Meanwhile, a poll of Tory activists suggested the l eadership contest was a two-horse race between Ms May and Andrea Leadsom. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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