Clegg: Lib Dems won't replace Trident

by Stephen Tall on June 16, 2009

From The Guardian:

The Liberal Democrats today become the first mainstream party to declare they will not renew Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent system with an equivalent modernised system, as parliament agreed in 2007. Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, told the Guardian he was making the move because of the rapidly deteriorating public finances and because the case for such a powerful nuclear deterrent in the post-cold war world was “a complete fiction”.

Figures in the cabinet and the shadow cabinet have been privately pressing for their parties to renounce a replacement for Trident, but have not been able to persuade their leaders. This means Clegg is the first big figure to argue openly against a full-scale Trident replacement.

Clegg said: “New leadership in Russia, new leadership obviously in the White House and a wider geostrategic appreciation means that a cold war missile system designed to penetrate Soviet defences and land in Moscow and St Petersburg at any time, in any weather, from any location anywhere round the planet, is not our foremost security challenge now. We have got to be grown-up and honest about it.

“Given that we need to ask ourselves big questions about what our priorities are, we have arrived at the view that a like-for-like Trident replacement is not the right thing to do.”

Until now the Lib Dems have called for a 50% cut in nuclear warheads, but left open the possibility that in the next parliament they would support like-for-like replacement for Trident when it needs to be renewed in 2024. …

Clegg said his new position represented a radical change. “I have grappled with this, because it is not where I started in my leadership. But the world has changed, the facts have changed, you’ve got to change with them. So like-for-like replacement for Trident is just not right.”

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