UK Politics

Labour 'committed' to Trident says defence spokeswoman

Trident-class nuclear submarine Vanguard Image copyright PA
Image caption The cost of building four replacement submarines is currently estimated at £31bn

Labour remains committed to renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system, new shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith has said.

She told Forces TV she harboured "serious doubts" about it in the past but Labour policy was to back it and that was not likely to change.

Ms Griffith replaced Clive Lewis when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reshuffled his shadow cabinet earlier this month.

Mr Lewis's conference speech on Trident was changed at the last moment.

He was believed to have been prevented from committing categorically to Labour renewing the UK's nuclear weapons system by the leader's office.

Labour's official policy is to support renewing the Trident system, but leader Jeremy Corbyn - a longstanding CND campaigner - wants to change the party's position and launched a defence review to examine the issue.

No shilly-shallying

In her interview, Ms Griffith said Labour delegates at the party conference in September had backed the weapons system "and that is a commitment that we will stick to".

She said Labour "can't be shilly-shallying about" on Trident, but added the UK must push for multilateral disarmament.

Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption In the past, Ms Griffith doubted the policy of having the nuclear deterrent

"What we do need to do now, and there is a very strong mood for this, both within the Labour Party and in the broader public, is really push forward on the multilateral nuclear disarmament, on the multilateral approach of bringing people together across the globe to try to make our world a safer place," she said.

Renewing Trident would involve the manufacture of four replacement submarines at a current estimated cost of £31bn.

The controversial nuclear arms issue caused a split within Labour when MPs voted in favour of renewal in July, with 140 Labour MPs supporting renewal, 47 voting against and the remainder abstaining.

'Sidelined'

CND, which wants a global ban on nuclear weapons, expressed disappointment at Ms Griffith's comments, saying the issue appeared to be being "sidelined".

"Labour hasn't debated Trident for 20 years but it insists on clinging to its old policy in spite of the fact that the majority of Labour members oppose Trident and the party leader has been elected twice with a strong anti-Trident position," said its general secretary Kate Hudson.

"We urge Labour Party members to ensure that the defence review be published, together with a full democratic debate within the party and at its next conference."

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has announced the appointment of seven more shadow ministers, to take his team to 68 frontbenchers.

Those assuming shadow ministerial positions are Paula Sherriff (women and equalities), Richard Burden (transport), Wayne David (defence), Khalid Mahmood (foreign office), Rupa Huq (home affairs), Lyn Brown (home affairs) and Gill Furniss (business).

And the former chief whip, Dame Rosie Winterton, has been made the party's envoy with responsibility for relations with Labour's international sister parties on the Party of European Socialists.

Her dismissal as chief whip, as part of a reshuffle following Mr Corbyn's re-election, had angered many Labour MPs.

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