Westminster U-turn on nuclear conference boycott

Philip Hammond said that an announcement on the conference would be made in days. Picture: Getty
Philip Hammond said that an announcement on the conference would be made in days. Picture: Getty
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THE UK government is expected to confirm a U-turn over its refusal to attend an international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons after pressure from Scotland.

In a written answer to SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said an announcement on the conference in Vienna would be made in days.

The government had declined to attend but had been put in a difficult position when the US government agreed to go to the talks involving more than 150 countries as well as international agencies such as the Red Cross.

It is understood the Foreign Office has been having discussions with the French government over attending.

With the UK’s nuclear detterent based on the Clyde, the issue has been paramount in Scotland and it is understood that the Church of Scotland’s moderator John Chalmers raised the issue during a visit to Downing Street this week.

Mr Robertson, who has been pressing the government to attend for several weeks, said: “This conference is taken extremely seriously by countries around the world and the UK should too.

“The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons whether used deliberately or inadvertently would be horrific.

“Scotland has been made home of the entire UK nuclear weapons fleet, which is why the conference is particularly important.

“Both the UK and Scottish Governments should attend the conference, and there are growing grounds for optimism that this will happen.”