Scottish independence: Trident US relations warning

A trident submarine pictured at Faslane on the Clyde. Picture: Getty
A trident submarine pictured at Faslane on the Clyde. Picture: Getty
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BRITAIN’S relationship with the United States would suffer a “mortal blow” if the Trident nuclear deterrent is not renewed, former shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin said.

The “symbiotic” UK-US relationship is vital for the country’s security in the world and gives Britain leverage over American policy.

The Tory MP for Harwich and North Essex said European partners such as France would find it hard to justify keeping a deterrent in times of austerity and public pressure if Britain scrapped Trident.

If European nuclear power was diminished, the US would not remain as committed to Nato as they would have to shoulder too much of the burden for a European nuclear deterrent, he said.

“Don’t imagine for a moment that it would be easy for a French government equally afflicted by austerity and public pressures for them to sustain their deterrent if we were going to wind down ours,” Mr Jenkin said.

“Don’t believe for a second that the United States would remain as committed to Nato and the transatlantic alliance if it became apparent that the European powers were no longer prepared to shoulder their burden of nuclear responsibility in the defence of our own continent.

“And don’t believe for a minute that the UK’s relationship with the US could stay the same if we threw the gift of the Trident nuclear deterrent back in their faces after they have gone to such lengths to share the costs, to share the development, to share the risks of the same system that we deploy that they use themselves.”

He went on: “The Americans can only do so much less unless they have international support and we are always their first port of call for international support.

“It’s our influence over American policy, that’s what gives us our leverage over American policy, that’s why the first person the American president always calls in a really big international crisis - not the French, not the Germans, not the Japanese, not the Indians, not the Chinese - it’s always the British Prime Minister that the American president calls.

“This is burden sharing in the real sense of the word and were we not to sustain contingency deterrents, it would be a mortal blow to the US-UK relationship, it would be a mortal blow to our security in the world, the ability for us to contribute to global security, it would be a mortal blow for Nato.”