UK MPs to vote on nuclear weapons system renewal

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London, July 18 (IANS) Britain’s MPs are set to decide on whether to renew the country’s Trident nuclear weapons programme in a House of Commons vote on Monday, a move backed by newly appointed Prime Minister Theresa May.

The vote will decide whether to press ahead with the manufacture of the next generation of nuclear submarines, BBC reported.

Opposition Labour Party is split with leader Jeremy Corbyn opposing renewal, but the party’s MPs will get a free vote on the issue.

The Scottish National Party — which opposes the renewal — had called for the vote to be delayed to allow “proper scrutiny”.

In a statement to the Telegraph, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that a vote to renew Trident will show that despite the Brexit vote “we are certainly not turning our back on the security of Europe and the rest of the world”.

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The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, will use her first appearance in the House of Commons since assuming office at 10, Downing Street to expose divisions in the Labour over Trident and warn that abandoning the nuclear deterrent would be “misplaced idealism”.

During the race to become the next Conservative leader, May pledged to make a “strong defence an important priority”.

“In the face of such strong evidence, it would be sheer madness to contemplate even for a moment giving up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent,” the BBC quoted her as saying.

She added that it would show Britain was “committed” to working with NATO allies after voting for Brexit.

Since 1969, according to government documents, a British submarine carrying nuclear weapons has always been on patrol, gliding silently beneath the waves, somewhere in the world’s oceans.

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The logic is to deter a nuclear attack on the UK because, even if the nation’s conventional defence capabilities were destroyed, the silent submarine would still be able to launch a catastrophic retaliatory strike on the aggressor, a concept known as mutually assured destruction, BBC noted.

The submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde river, carry up to eight Trident missiles; each can be fitted with a number of warheads.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said Trident “was an immoral, obscene and redundant weapons system”.

“The vote on Trident is one of the most important this parliament will ever take,” BBC reported citing Robertson.

“For the Tories to commit to spend hundreds of billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction – particularly at a time when they are making significant cuts to public services – would be both morally and economically indefensible,” he added.

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