In an interview with ITV Border's Dan Hewitt ahead of the Copeland by-election, the Labour leader said that he recognised that nuclear facilities would exist for a long time as part of the future energy mix, but he would not commit to the idea of any new development in the constituency.
Asked repeatedly whether he would support a new power station at Moorside he would only indicate that reprocessing plants (like Sellafield) would have to exist "for as long as there is reprocessing going on" but declined to give a specific yes or no on whether he would back a new nuclear power station in the Copeland constituency, describing the question of whether Moorside is likely to be approved in "about 2018" as "a bit unclear."
The nuclear industry is a major employer in West Cumbria. If Nugen's proposal to build the nuclear power station at Moorside goes ahead, it would create around 21,000 jobs.
The following exchange was recorded as part of an interview with the Labour leader. Let me warn any Labour activists working on the Copeland by-election campaign to make sure you are sitting down and have taken two aspirin before watching or reading it.
- (DH) "In 2015 you said 'I'm opposed to new nuclear. New nuclear power will mean the continued production of dangerous nuclear waste'... do you support the building of a new nuclear power plant at Moorside in Copeland?"
- (DH)"You say your candidate supports it, my question was do you support it?"
- (DH) "For people watching at home that know that Moorside will create 21,000 new jobs in Copleand, in a constituency so heavily dependant on nuclear, you're saying you don't support Moorside...?"
- (DH) "For most of your political career, you've been, at best, lukewarm towards the nuclear power industry. How do you convince voters, in a constituency so heavily dependant on that industry, that you are the man, you are the party, that they should now vote for?"
- (DH) Do you accept that that is a slight change in tack from what you've said for the past thirty years of your career?