Theresa May – 2016 Speech on Nuclear Deterrent

theresamay

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 18 July 2016.

I beg to move,

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 the UK’s 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 the UK’s national security and way of life and that of the UK’s allies; 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 reducing its 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.

Obviously, the Home Secretary has just made a statement about the attack in Nice, and I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those killed and injured in last Thursday’s utterly horrifying attack in Nice—innocent victims brutally murdered by terrorists who resent the freedoms that we treasure and want nothing more than to destroy our way of life.

This latest attack in France, compounding the tragedies of the Paris attacks in January and November last year, is another grave reminder of the growing threats that Britain and all our allies face from terrorism. On Friday I spoke to President Hollande and assured him that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the French people, as we have done so often in the past. We will never be cowed by terror. Though the battle against terrorism may be long, these terrorists will be defeated, and the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité will prevail.

I should also note the serious events over the weekend in Turkey. We have firmly condemned the attempted coup by certain members of the Turkish military, which began on Friday evening. Britain stands firmly in support of Turkey’s democratically elected Government and institutions. We call for the full observance of Turkey’s constitutional order and stress the importance of the rule of law prevailing in the wake of this failed coup. Everything must be done to avoid further violence, to protect lives and to restore calm. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked around the clock to provide help and advice to the many thousands of British nationals on holiday or working in Turkey at this time. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken to the Turkish Foreign Minister, and I expect to speak to President Erdogan shortly.

Before I turn to our nuclear deterrent, I am sure the House will welcome the news that Japan’s SoftBank Group intends to acquire UK tech firm ARM Holdings. I have spoken to SoftBank directly. It has confirmed its commitment to keep the company in Cambridge and to invest further to double the number of UK jobs over five years. This £24 billion investment would be the largest ever Asian investment in the UK. It is a clear demonstration that Britain is open for business—as attractive to international investment as ever.

There is no greater responsibility as Prime Minister than ensuring the safety and security of our people. That is why I have made it my first duty in this House to move today’s motion so that we can get on with the job of renewing an essential part of our national security for generations to come.

For almost half a century, every hour of every day, our Royal Navy nuclear submarines have been patrolling the oceans, unseen and undetected, fully armed and fully ready—our ultimate insurance against nuclear attack. Our submariners endure months away from their families, often without any contact with their loved ones, training relentlessly for a duty they hope never to carry out. I hope that, whatever our views on the deterrent, we can today agree on one thing: that our country owes an enormous debt of gratitude to all our submariners and their families for the sacrifices they make in keeping us safe. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”]

As a former Home Secretary, I am familiar with the threats facing our country. In my last post, I was responsible for counter-terrorism for over six years. I received daily operational intelligence briefings about the threats to our national security, I chaired a weekly security meeting with representatives of all the country’s security and intelligence agencies, military and police, and I received personal briefings from the director-general of MI5. Over those six years as Home Secretary I focused on the decisions needed to keep our people safe, and that remains my first priority as Prime Minister.

The threats that we face are serious, and it is vital for our national interest that we have the full spectrum of our defences at full strength to meet them. That is why, under my leadership, this Government will continue to meet our NATO obligation to spend 2% of our GDP on defence. We will maintain the most significant security and military capability in Europe, and we will continue to invest in all the capabilities set out in the strategic defence and security review last year. We will meet the growing terrorist threat coming from Daesh in Syria and Iraq, from Boko Haram in Nigeria, from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, from al-Shabaab in east Africa, and from other terrorist groups planning attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We will continue to invest in new capabilities to counter threats that do not recognise national borders, including by remaining a world leader in cyber-security.

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Ukraine would have been less likely to have lost a sizeable portion of its territory to Russia had it kept its nuclear weapons, and that there are lessons in that for us?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there are lessons. Some people suggest to us that we should actually be removing our nuclear deterrent. This has been a vital part of our national security and defence for nearly half a century now, and it would be quite wrong for us to go down that particular path.

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op)

I offer the Prime Minister many congratulations on her election. Will she be reassured that whatever she is about to hear from our Front Benchers, it remains steadfastly Labour party policy to renew the deterrent while other countries have the capacity to threaten the United Kingdom, and that many of my colleagues will do the right thing for the long-term security of our nation and vote to complete the programme that we ourselves started in government?

The Prime Minister

I commend the hon. Gentleman for the words that he has just spoken. He is absolutely right. The national interest is clear. The manifesto on which Labour Members of Parliament stood for the general election last year said that Britain must remain

“committed to a minimum, credible, independent nuclear capability, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent.”

I welcome the commitment that he and, I am sure, many of his colleagues will be giving tonight to that nuclear deterrent by joining Government Members of Parliament in voting for this motion.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)

I add my congratulations to the right hon. Lady in her new role. If keeping and renewing our nuclear weapons is so vital to our national security and our safety, then does she accept that the logic of that position must be that every single other country must seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and does she really think that the world would be a safer place if it did? Our nuclear weapons are driving proliferation, not the opposite.

The Prime Minister

No, I do not accept that at all. I have to say to the hon. Lady that, sadly, she and some Labour Members seem to be the first to defend the country’s enemies and the last to accept these capabilities when we need them.

None of this means that there will be no threat from nuclear states in the coming decades. As I will set out for the House today, the threats from countries such as Russia and North Korea remain very real. As our strategic defence and security review made clear, there is a continuing risk of further proliferation of nuclear weapons. We must continually convince any potential aggressors that the benefits of an attack on Britain are far outweighed by their consequences; and we cannot afford to relax our guard or rule out further shifts that would put our country in grave danger. We need to be prepared to deter threats to our lives and our livelihoods, and those of generations who are yet to be born.

Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)

Of course, when SNP Members go through the Lobby tonight, 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs will be voting against this. What message is the Prime Minister sending to the people of Scotland, who are demonstrating, through their elected representatives, that we do not want Trident on our soil?

The Prime Minister

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that that means that 58 of the 59 Scottish Members of Parliament will be voting against jobs in Scotland that are supported by the nuclear deterrent.

Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab)

I thank the Prime Minister for giving way and congratulate her on her appointment. She mentioned the security threat that the country faces from terrorism. What does she say to those who say that it is a choice between renewing the Trident programme and confronting the terrorist threat?

The Prime Minister

I say that it is not a choice. This country needs to recognise that it faces a variety of threats and ensure that we have the capabilities that are necessary and appropriate to deal with each of them. As the Home Secretary has just made clear in response to questions on her statement, the Government are committed to extra funding and extra resource going to, for example, counter-terrorism policing and the security and intelligence agencies as they face the terrorist threat, but what we are talking about today is the necessity for us to have a nuclear deterrent, which has been an insurance policy for this country for nearly 50 years and I believe that it should remain so.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op) rose—

The Prime Minister

I would like to make a little progress before I take more interventions.

I know that there are a number of serious and very important questions at the heart of this debate, and I want to address them all this afternoon. First, in the light of the evolving nature of the threats that we face, is a nuclear deterrent really still necessary and essential? Secondly, is the cost of our deterrent too great? Thirdly, is building four submarines the right way of maintaining our deterrent? Fourthly, could we not rely on our nuclear-armed allies, such as America and France, to provide our deterrent instead? Fifthly, do we not have a moral duty to lead the world in nuclear disarmament, rather than maintaining our own deterrent? I will take each of those questions in turn.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)

May I congratulate the Prime Minister on her surefootedness in bringing this motion before the House and at last allowing Parliament to make a decision in this Session? We will proudly stand behind the Government on this issue tonight. I encourage her to tell the Scots Nats that if they do not want those jobs in Scotland, they will be happily taken in Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention and for the support that he and his colleagues will show tonight.

Mike Gapes

I congratulate the right hon. Lady on becoming Prime Minister. Will she confirm that, when the Labour Government of Clement Attlee took the decision to have nuclear weapons, they had to do so in a very dangerous world, and that successive Labour Governments kept those nuclear weapons because there was a dangerous world? Is it not the case that now is also a dangerous time?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Of course, the last Labour Government held votes in this House on the retention of the nuclear deterrent. It is a great pity that there are Members on the Labour Front Bench who fail to see the necessity of the nuclear deterrent, given that in the past the Labour party has put the British national interest first when looking at the issue.

I want to set out for the House why our nuclear deterrent remains as necessary and essential today as it was when we first established it. The nuclear threat has not gone away; if anything, it has increased.

First, there is the threat from existing nuclear states such as Russia. We know that President Putin is upgrading his nuclear forces. In the past two years, there has been a disturbing increase in both Russian rhetoric about the use of nuclear weapons and the frequency of snap nuclear exercises. As we have seen with the illegal annexation of Crimea, there is no doubt about President Putin’s willingness to undermine the rules-based international system in order to advance his own interests. He has already threatened to base nuclear forces in Crimea and in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic sea that neighbours Poland and Lithuania.

Secondly, there is the threat from countries that wish to acquire nuclear capabilities illegally. North Korea has stated a clear intent to develop and deploy a nuclear weapon, and it continues to work towards that goal, in flagrant violation of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP) rose—

The Prime Minister

I am going to make some progress. North Korea is the only country in the world to have tested nuclear weapons this century, carrying out its fourth test this year, as well as a space launch that used ballistic missile technology. It also claims to be attempting to develop a submarine-launch capability and to have withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Based on the advice I have received, we believe that North Korea could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons. It also has a long-range ballistic missile, which it claims can reach America, and which is potentially intended for nuclear delivery. There is, of course, the danger that North Korea might share its technology or its weapons with other countries or organisations that wish to do us harm.

Thirdly, there is the question of future nuclear threats that we cannot even anticipate today. Let me be clear why this matters. Once nuclear weapons have been given up, it is almost impossible to get them back, and the process of creating a new deterrent takes many decades. We could not redevelop a deterrent fast enough to respond to a new and unforeseen nuclear threat, so the decision on whether to renew our nuclear deterrent hinges not just on the threats we face today, but on an assessment of what the world will be like over the coming decades.

It is impossible to say for certain that no such extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life, and it would be an act of gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats by discarding the ultimate insurance against those risks in the future. With the existing fleet of Vanguard submarines beginning to leave service by the early 2030s, and with the time it takes to build and test new submarines, we need to take the decision to replace them now.

Maintaining our nuclear deterrent is not just essential for our own national security; it is vital for the future security of our NATO allies.

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP)

Last year, the then Minister for Defence Procurement, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne), said that the cost of the replacement programme was

“being withheld as it relates to the formulation of Government policy and release would prejudice commercial interests.”

Given the scale of the decision that we are being asked to make, will the Prime Minister tell us the answer to that question—the through-life cost?

The Prime Minister

I am happy to do so. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish this section of my speech, I will come on to the cost in a minute. Britain is going to leave the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe, and we will not leave our European and NATO allies behind. Being recognised as one of the five nuclear weapons states under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty confers on us unique responsibilities, because many of the nations that signed the treaty in the 1960s did so on the understanding that they were protected by NATO’s nuclear umbrella, including the UK deterrent. Abandoning our deterrent would undermine not only our own future security, but that of our allies. That is not something that I am prepared to do.

Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con)

I wonder whether the Prime Minister, with her very busy schedule, caught the interview on Radio 5 Live this morning with the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Owen Smith), who stated that he was a member of CND as a teenager, but then he grew up. Is not the mature and adult view that in a world in which we have a nuclear North Korea and an expansionist Russia, we must keep our at-sea independent nuclear deterrent?

The Prime Minister

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and I think he is right to point out that there are Opposition Members who support that view. Sadly, not many of them seem to be on the Front Bench, but perhaps my speech will change the views of some of the Front Benchers; we will see.

I said to the right hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) that I would come on to the question of cost, and I want to do that now. Of course, no credible deterrent is cheap, and it is estimated that the four new submarines will cost £31 billion to build, with an additional contingency of £10 billion. With the acquisition costs spread over 35 years, this is effectively an insurance premium of 0.2% of total annual Government spending. That is 20p in every £100 for a capability that will protect our people through to the 2060s and beyond. I am very clear that our national security is worth every penny.

Angus Robertson

I am grateful to the Prime Minister for taking a second intervention. I asked her a simple question the first time around. I think that she has concluded her confirmation of the through-life cost for Trident’s replacement, but she did not say what that number was. Would she be so kind as to say what the total figure is for Trident replacement, including its through-life cost?

The Prime Minister

I have given the figures for the cost of building the submarines. I am also clear that the in-service cost is about 6% of the defence budget, or about 13p in every £100 of Government spending. There is also a significant economic benefit to the renewal of our nuclear deterrent, which might be of interest to members of the Scottish National party.

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab)

The Prime Minister quite rightly paid tribute to our submariners. Will she also pay tribute to the men and women working in our defence industries who will work on Successor? They are highly skilled individuals who are well paid, but such skills cannot just be turned on and off like a tap when we need them. Does she agree that it is vital for the national interest to keep these people employed?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman makes an incredibly important point. Our nuclear defence industry makes a major contribution to our defence industrial base. It supports more than 30,000 jobs across the United Kingdom, and benefits hundreds of suppliers across more than 350 constituencies. The skills required in this industry, whether in engineering or design, will keep our nation at the cutting edge for years to come. Along with the hon. Gentleman, I pay tribute to all those who are working in the industry and, by their contribution, helping to keep us safe.

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con)

I welcome my right hon. Friend to her place as Prime Minister. Does she agree with me that, like the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), I have quite a lot of people in my constituency who are working in the defence industry, the nuclear power industry and the science sector? Will it not be a kick in the teeth for my constituents if we do not agree to this deterrent today?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Some constituencies—obviously, Morecambe and Lunesdale, and Barrow and Furness—are particularly affected by this, but as I have just said, there are jobs across about 350 constituencies in this country that are related to this industry. If we were not going to renew our nuclear deterrent, those people would of course be at risk of losing their jobs as a result.

Several hon. Members rose—

The Prime Minister

I will give way to the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), and then I will make some progress.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)

I hope that the Prime Minister will come on to explain how a like-for-like replacement for Trident complies with article 6 of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The Prime Minister

I will come on to the whole question of nuclear proliferation a little later, if the right hon. Gentleman will just hold his fire.

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)

Will the Prime Minister confirm for me and the House that the vast majority of the cost involved will be invested in jobs, skills and businesses in this country over many decades? This is an investment in our own security. It is not about outsourcing, but about keeping things safe at home.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is about jobs here in the United Kingdom, and it is also about the development of skills here in the United Kingdom that will be of benefit to our engineering and design base for many years to come.

The decision will also specifically increase the number of jobs in Scotland. HM Naval Base Clyde is already one of the largest employment sites in Scotland, sustaining around 6,800 military and civilian jobs, as well as having a wider impact on the local economy. As the base becomes home to all Royal Navy submarines, the number of people employed there is set to increase to 8,200 by 2022. If hon. Members vote against today’s motion, they will be voting against those jobs. That is why the Unite union has said that defending and securing the jobs of the tens of thousands of defence workers involved in the Successor submarine programme is its priority.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab)

On the issue of jobs, there is a lot of steel in Successor submarines, so will the Prime Minister commit to using UK steel for these developments?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman might have noticed that the Government have looked at the Government procurement arrangements in relation to steel. Obviously, where British steel is good value, we would want it to be used. For the hon. Gentleman’s confirmation, I have been in Wales this morning and one of the issues I discussed with the First Minister of Wales was the future of Tata and the work that the Government have done with the Welsh Government on that.

I will now turn to the specific question of whether building four submarines is the right approach, or whether there are cheaper and more effective ways of providing a similar effect to the Trident system. I think the facts are very clear. A review of alternatives to Trident, undertaken in 2013, found that no alternative system is as capable, resilient or cost-effective as a Trident-based deterrent. Submarines are less vulnerable to attack than aircraft, ships or silos, and they can maintain a continuous, round-the-clock cover in a way that aircraft cannot, while alternative delivery systems such as cruise missiles do not have the same reach or capability.

Furthermore, we do not believe that submarines will be rendered obsolete by unmanned underwater vehicles or cyber-techniques, as some have suggested. Indeed, Admiral Lord Boyce, the former First Sea Lord and submarine commander, has said that we are more likely to put a man on Mars within six months than make the seas transparent within 30 years. With submarines operating in isolation when deployed, it is hard to think of a system less susceptible to cyber-attack. Other nations think the same. That is why America, Russia, China and France all continue to spend tens of billions on their own submarine-based weapons.

Delivering Britain’s continuous at-sea deterrence means that we need all four submarines to ensure that one is always on patrol, taking account of the cycle of deployment, training, and routine and unplanned maintenance. Three submarines cannot provide resilience against unplanned refits or breaks in serviceability, and neither can they deliver the cost savings that some suggest they would, since large fixed costs for infrastructure, training and maintenance are not reduced by any attempt to cut from four submarines to three. It is therefore right to replace our current four Vanguard submarines with four Successors. I will not seek false economies with the security of the nation, and I am not prepared to settle for something that does not do the job.

Mr Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con)

I was listening carefully to the question from the leader of the Scottish National party about cost. Is it not clear that whatever the cost, he and his party are against our nuclear deterrent? Scottish public opinion is clear that people in Scotland want the nuclear deterrent. When my right hon. Friend the Scottish Secretary votes to retain the nuclear deterrent tonight, he will be speaking for the people of Scotland, not the SNP.

The Prime Minister

I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend; he put that very well indeed.

Let me turn to the issue of whether we could simply rely on other nuclear armed allies such as America and France to provide our deterrent. The first question is how would America and France react if we suddenly announced that we were abandoning our nuclear capabilities but still expected them to put their cities at risk to protect us in a nuclear crisis. That is hardly standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies.

At last month’s NATO summit in Warsaw, our allies made clear that by maintaining our independent nuclear deterrent alongside America and France, we provide NATO with three separate centres of decision making. That complicates the calculations of potential adversaries, and prevents them from threatening the UK or our allies with impunity. Withdrawing from that arrangement would weaken us now and in future, undermine NATO, and embolden our adversaries. It might also allow potential adversaries to gamble that one day the US or France might not put itself at risk to deter an attack on the UK.

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con)

It is all very well looking at the cost of building and running the submarines, but the cost of instability in the world if there is no counterbalance reduces our ability to trade and reduces GDP. This is not just about what it costs; it is about what would happen if we did not have this system and there was more instability in the world.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes a valid and important point, and this issue must be looked at in the round, not just as one set of figures.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)

I congratulate the Prime Minister on her appointment. I shall be voting for the motion this evening because I believe that the historical role of the Labour party and Labour Governments has been on the right side of this issue. I love the fact that she is showing strong support for NATO, but there is a niggle: have we the capacity and resources to maintain conventional forces to the level that will match our other forces?

The Prime Minister

The answer to that is yes—we are very clear that we face different threats and need different capabilities to face them. We have now committed to 2% of GDP being spent on defence, and we have increased the defence budget and the money that we spend on more conventional forces.

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP)

I congratulate the Prime Minister on her new role, but let us cut to the chase: is she personally prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children?

The Prime Minister

Yes. The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it, unlike the suggestion that we could have a nuclear deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which seemed to come from the Labour Front Bench.

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab)

I am sure the Prime Minister is aware that Russia has 10 times the amount of tactical nuclear weapons than the whole of the rest of NATO. On a recent Defence Committee visit to Russia, we were told by senior military leaders that they reserved the right to use nuclear weapons as a first strike. Is that not something that should make us very afraid if we ever thought of giving up our nuclear weapons?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. As I pointed out earlier, Russia is also modernising its nuclear capability. It would be a dereliction of our duty, in terms of our responsibility for the safety and security of the British people, if we were to give up our nuclear deterrent.

We must send an unequivocal message to any adversary that the cost of an attack on our United Kingdom or our allies will always be far greater than anything it might hope to gain through such an attack. Only the retention of our own independent deterrent can do this. This Government will never endanger the security of our people and we will never hide behind the protection provided by others, while claiming the mistaken virtue of unilateral disarmament.

Let me turn to the question of our moral duty to lead nuclear disarmament. Stopping nuclear weapons being used globally is not achieved by giving them up unilaterally. It is achieved by working towards a multilateral process. That process is important and Britain could not be doing more to support this vital work. Britain is committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I am going to make some more progress.

We play a leading role on disarmament verification, together with Norway and America. We will continue to press for key steps towards multilateral disarmament, including the entry into force of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and for successful negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Furthermore, we are committed to retaining the minimum amount of destructive power needed to deter any aggressor. We have cut our nuclear stockpiles by over half since their cold war peak in the late 1970s. Last year, we delivered on our commitment to reduce the number of deployed warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40. We will retain no more than 120 operationally available warheads and we will further reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons to no more than 180 warheads by the middle of the next decade.

Britain has approximately 1% of the 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world. For us to disarm unilaterally would not significantly change the calculations of other nuclear states, nor those seeking to acquire such weapons. To disarm unilaterally would not make us safer. Nor would it make the use of nuclear weapons less likely. In fact, it would have the opposite effect, because it would remove the deterrent that for 60 years has helped to stop others using nuclear weapons against us.

Our national interest is clear. Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an insurance policy we simply cannot do without. 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. That would be a reckless gamble: a gamble that would enfeeble our allies and embolden our enemies; a gamble with the safety and security of families in Britain that we must never be prepared to take.

We have waited long enough. It is time to get on with building the next generation of our nuclear deterrent. It is time to take this essential decision to deter the most extreme threats to our society and preserve our way of life for generations to come. I commend this motion to the House.