Not renewing Trident ‘irresponsible folly’

SCOTTISH Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called on all MPs elected in Scotland next week to put what she says is the national interest on military and defence issues ahead of their party.

A decision against renewing Trident would be 'irrevocable' the defence chiefs wrote. Picture: PA
A decision against renewing Trident would be 'irrevocable' the defence chiefs wrote. Picture: PA

Ms Davidson’s remarks came after a group of former defence and security chiefs warned that it would be “irresponsible folly” for the next UK government not to renew Trident.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that instead of renewing its nuclear weapons system, the UK should focus on conventional defence forces, stating that over the last decade or more these had been “compromised by the obsession with the status symbol that is Trident”. However, it was claimed a decision against renewal would be “irrevocable”, in a letter signed by 20 people, including former GCHQ director Sir David Omand and former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Sir Jonathon Band.

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They said the UK has made a huge contribution to nuclear disarmament but warned against compromising Britain’s security in what they described as an “uncertain world”.

A decision against renewing Trident would be 'irrevocable' the defence chiefs wrote. Picture: PA

“In an uncertain world where some powers are now displaying a worrying faith in nuclear weapons as an instrument of policy and influence, it would be irresponsible folly to abandon Britain’s own independent deterrent,” the letter stated.

Ms Davidson, during a campaign visit to Tayside yesterday, attacked the SNP as “Nationalist nimbys putting their narrow interests before our armed forces’ needs”, as she criticised the SNP’s opposition to the renewal of Trident.

The Scottish Conservative leader accused the SNP of putting the party’s election campaign above the defence needs of the nation, as she drove a tank at the party event near Dundee.

Ms Davidson said: “General elections aren’t simply an opportunity to have a free kick at the establishment – they are about choosing an MP who will be asked to make serious decisions, including how we resource and support our troops and whether we deploy them in conflict.

A general view of the Faslane submarine base. Picture: Getty

“Right now, the UK invests more in our armed forces than any other European nation, we are second behind the US in Nato and in the top five in the world.

“This is what our defence chiefs are calling for to keep our country – and the wider region – safe, and we are committed to delivering.”

She added: “Scotland’s tradition is as a nation which, as part of the UK, shoulders its burden in the world.

“I don’t want a new generation of Nationalist nimbys putting their narrow interests before our armed force’s needs. Scotland is better than that.”

A House of Commons Library note suggests that in 2013-14 prices, replacing the whole Trident system would cost between £17.5 and £23.4 billion.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon refused to confirm the Conservatives would vote with a minority Labour government to renew Trident.

However, former foreign secretary William Hague said Conservative MPs would always vote for the national interest.

He insisted it was not clear what Labour’s policy on Trident would be.

Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The uncertainty here is over Labour’s policy. We don’t know what a Labour government would put to the Commons.”

He said: “We will always be consistent with our policy but the doubt is whether Labour would put that to the Commons.”