MPs Vote to Renew Trident Nuclear Deterrent Submarine Weapon Fleet

By Gerald Lynch on at

With the Doomsday Clock still sat at three minutes to midnight, there was an air of inevitability to yesterday's vote on the future of the UK's Trident nuclear deterrent weapons system. And now it's set in stone – MPs voted in favour of renewing the submarine programme by 472 votes to 117.

Four replacement submarines for the current fleet (which have been in service for more than 50 years) will be built at a cost of around £31 billion. The new subs will come into service in the early 2030s.

Related: What is Trident and Why Do We Need It?

Trident "puts doubts in the minds of our adversaries", said defence secretary Michael Fallon. And while the vote wasn't universally in Trident's favour, all but one Conservative MP voted for its renewal, with 140 of 230 Labour MPs backing the plans too.

With the Labour party in disarray, the vote was as much an act of contempt for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership as it was on the merits of the defence system. Corbyn's long been a nuclear disarmament campaigner, despite his party previously favouring the Trident system. The weapons system's renewal will protect many jobs in the Labour constituency of Barrow in Cumbria, where it is set to be constructed, however.

Related: Should We Renew Trident? A Closer Look at the Arguments

With the Trident submarine fleet based at HMNB Clyde in Faslane, Scotland, it's long been a key point in the SNP's Scottish independence campaigning. And there was a striking moment in Parliament yesterday when Theresa May, asked by the SNP's George Kerevan whether she would push the button on a nuclear attack destined to kill hundreds of thousands, replied without hesitation with a simple "yes". It's a question that previous prime ministers have skirted around – Sir Geoffrey Howe, who was Foreign Secretary towards the end of the cold war, once stated it was a question no prime minister should ever answer directly.