Increase to UK’s nuclear weapon stockpile ‘utterly unacceptable’, says Yousaf

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·3-min read

Scotland’s Justice Secretary has said a planned increase to the UK’s stock of nuclear weapons is “completely unacceptable” to the Scottish Government.

Announcing a new foreign policy strategy for the country’s role in the world after Brexit and with the rise of China, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would have to be “match-fit for the modern world”.

The UK Government will, according to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, lift a cap on the number of nuclear warheads in the stockpile.

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A pledge was made that numbers would not rise above 180 by the mid-2020s, but now that figure could go as high as 260 – although a policy of “deliberate ambiguity” will mean the total will never be confirmed to the public.

But the news has caused anger in Scotland, where the current nuclear deterrent is housed and the Scottish Government has long stated its opposition to nuclear weapons.

“One thing is absolutely clear – the UK Government’s plans to expand the stockpile of nuclear weapons are utterly unacceptable to the Scottish Government,” Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said.

“Nuclear weapons are morally, strategically and economically wrong. Our opposition to Trident remains unequivocal.

“Scotland is home to one of the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, despite consistent and clear opposition from across civic Scotland and a clear majority of our elected politicians.

“The UK Government has wasted billions on weapons that must never be used – it is lamentable that just two months after the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into effect, the UK Government has concluded that even more nuclear weapons are required.”

Mr Yousaf also said there had been a lack of engagement with the Scottish Government on the review, and urged the UK Government to make commitments that any future shipbuilding would have benefits for Scotland.

“With a damaging Brexit deal, increasingly strained relations with Europe, and the short-sighted decision to cut international aid, the UK Government is already facing a reduced international standing. This review seems unequal to the task of changing that.

“Scotland is, and will always remain, a responsible global citizen which will play a full and constructive role in the international community, sharing the values set out in the EU treaties: respect for human dignity, respect for human rights, freedom, equality, democracy, and the rule of law.”

Scotland’s First Minister also took to Twitter to highlight what she sees as the difference between the UK and Scottish Governments.

She said: “Today, the UK government will announce a massive increase in its stockpile of nuclear weapons. By contrast, ⁦@scotgov will incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.”