21 Jan 2015

MPs vote for £100bn renewal of Trident nuclear programme

Summary: A motion against the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons programme has been defeated in the House of Commons by a landslide majority.

The motion, tabled by an alliance of MPs from the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, was overwhelming rejected by the Conservative and Labour members by a majority of 364 to 35.

The costs associated with Trident are estimated at £100bn, including costs for maintenance, design, associated administration, continued safety and through-life management. It is also an important driver for the local economies surrounding the nuclear base at Faslane as well as ports associated with submarine maintenance such as Portsmouth, due to the lack of diversification of the UK’s current defence strategy which is so reliant on the nuclear programme.

Trident debate

Proponents of Trident debated in the House of Commons that the system is the UK’s best deterrent against nuclear attacks and worldwide threats, particularly as countries like Russia and North Korea increase their nuclear capabilities. In addition, the nuclear base at Faslane is Scotland’s single largest employer, set to increase to 8200 jobs by 2020, jobs which may be at risk if Trident is scrapped.

The MOD also announced during the debate that it had already earmarked a further £261m investment in a new Trident submarine fleet ahead of the official ‘maingate’ vote on a decision to go ahead with a new Trident system in 2016. Given this advanced investment, alongside £3bn in ‘long lead’ items, including propulsion components, generators and main engines, the MOD argues that it is now more cost effective to retain Trident than to replace it.

However, opponents of the system, however, argue that the £100bn price tag is unjustifiable when public services are under threat of cuts, that nuclear weapons are not the best defence against today’s major threats including terrorism and cyber warfare, and that the rise of nuclear capability in Russia and North Korea proves that Trident is ineffectual as a nuclear ‘deterrent’ and inconceivable to be used as a nuclear weapon.

Although the debate itself was non-binding, the landslide result led by the Conservative/Labour partnership points heavily towards the intentions of both the parties to officially renew the Trident programme in 2016 regardless of the outcome of the 2015 General Election.

Defence market intelligence

With the debate surrounding Trident likely to remain in the spotlight ahead of the General Election and the 2016 replacement vote, it is vital that your organisation remains up to date on the current arguments, trends and industry insight which will inform your business plans for the years ahead.

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