Monday, July 18, 2016

Another reminder to MPs as they vote on Trident renewal

This cartoon was published in 1983. The nuclear deterrent has now stopped World War III breaking out for seventy years.

Nobody can be certain what the world will look like in forty years' time. Those who back one-sided disarmament by Britain are gambling that no threat which the Independent British Nuclear deterrent might be required to deter against over the lifetime of the submarines which MPs are voting today whether to commission will be required between about 2028 and 2060.

Since the war peace in Europe has rested on three pillars - NATO, the nuclear deterrent, and the European Union. Last month British voters took the decision that the last of these is no longer helpful to Britain.

The decision that Britain will leave the EU was taken by a democratic majority and will be implemented, but even if you are one of the 52% who thought that was the right thing to do, it should still be recognised that this means that we have already given a pretty large kick to the stability of the continent this year, and in my opinion that's quite enough major shocks to the local order from one country for a decade or so.

For Britain to unilaterally decide not to provide a new generation of submarines to carry our nuclear deterrent would mean that our country has undermined in consecutive months two of the three pillars on which Europe's security has rested for decades at a time when the possible election of Donald J Trump, (who is no fan of NATO) poses an existential threat to the third.

Ah, you say, but Trump's never going to win - Hilary Clinton will beat him, surely?

I still think that's probable, but don't forget that Hillary is not the most popular of candidates, and all the people who say that Trump has no chance of winning were saying a year ago that he wouldn't get the Republican nomination. Just as many people on both sides thought that "Remain" would win the EU referendum. It is NEVER safe to take the result of a democratic vote for granted.

And if Trump. who already thinks that it's time Europeans paid more towards the cost of our defence and that we are expecting the USA to pick up too much of the tab, did become president, the sight of a major European player in NATO unilaterally disarming is just about the worst impression we could give him.

I have opposed the idea of unilateral nuclear disarmament for the whole of my adult life, but in the present context  - after the Brexit vote and in the face of the Trump candidacy - such a policy has the potential to be even more disastrous than it might have been in more normal times.  MPs have a heavy responsibility today and a vote against a new generation of submarines as a platform for Britain's nuclear deterrent would be an act of reckless irresponsibility.

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