Scotland

Defence secretary: Scottish Trident jobs 'under threat from Labour'

Faslane Image copyright Getty Images

The UK defence secretary has said Labour's divisions over the renewal of Trident could endanger thousands of Scottish jobs.

Michael Fallon told the BBC that a decision to scrap the nuclear missile system could jeopardise millions of pounds of investment in Scotland.

Scottish Labour accused the defence secretary of "aggresive politics".

MPs are expected to vote this year on whether to back government plans to renew the UK's four Trident submarines.

Labour is currently reviewing its support for the Clyde-based weapons.

Renewal is opposed by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, while Scottish Labour voted to scrap the deterrent at its party conference last November.

Labour's only surviving Scottish MP, Ian Murray, has previously insisted that the party could have different policies on renewing Trident north and south of the border.

Mr Fallon is set to announce an extra £640m investment in Trident-related programmes ahead of the Scottish Conservative Party conference which starts on Friday.

The defence secretary said a lot of that investment would be in Scotland, creating "highly-skilled jobs".

Image copyright Getty Images

The UK's Trident nuclear missile system is based at Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

Mr Fallon told BBC Scotland: "The GMB union understand that the Trident programme is going ahead. We are renewing these boats now, we're spending money on them and we're creating the skilled jobs in the Trident programme.

"Now the only threat to that is Labour. It is Labour that would jeopardise that programme, that would jeopardise those jobs by cancelling the deterrent and I hope they never get into power to do it."

Scottish Labour said Mr Fallon had "built a reputation on this kind of aggressive politics, as can be seen from his criticisms of Sadiq Khan, Labour's candidate for London Mayor".

A party spokesman added: "Now he wants to bring those tactics to Scotland which only goes to prove that the Tories have learnt nothing and it will do nothing for their electoral chances in May as can be seen from their falling poll numbers."

'Obscene and redundant weapons'

On reports there is to be an extra £640m investment for Trident, the SNP's defence spokesperson Brendan O'Hara said the UK government was adamant to "dump the nuclear arsenal on the Clyde for the next 50 years despite opposition from the Scottish government".

He added: "Michael Fallon needs to come clean and tell MPs and the people of Scotland how much money has already been spent and how much more he wants to spend before MPs get a chance to vote on renewal.

"The UK government are pushing ahead, spending hundreds of millions more of taxpayers money on preparing for these obscene and redundant weapons.

"Trident is an immoral obscene and redundant weapons system - the SNP will vote against nuclear weapons at every opportunity."


Trident's role

Image copyright Getty Images

Since 1969, according to government documents, a British submarine carrying nuclear weapons has always been on patrol, gliding silently beneath the waves, somewhere in the world's oceans.

The logic is to deter a nuclear attack on the UK because, even if the nation's conventional defence capabilities were destroyed, the silent submarine would still be able to launch a catastrophic retaliatory strike on the aggressor, a concept known as mutually assured destruction.

The submarines carry up to 8 Trident missiles; each can be fitted with a number of warheads.

Read more about the history of the UK's nuclear weapons system

More on this story