Labour recommits to UK’s nuclear weapons as shadow defence secretary says retaining them is ‘non-negotiable’

Sean Morrison
·2-min read
The meeting is intended to focus on encouraging North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons (AP)
The meeting is intended to focus on encouraging North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons (AP)

Labour has recommits to UK’s nuclear weapons, as the shadow defence secretary said retaining them is “non-negotiable”.

The party ceased its policy of eliminating the country’s nuclear weapons when it lost the 1987 general election, though the decision remains unpopular with Labour’s left.

John Healey MP will tell the Royal United Services Institute think tank on Friday that “Labour’s support for the UK’s nuclear deterrent is non-negotiable and we want to see Britain doing more to lead efforts to secure multilateral disarmament”.

He will also say Labour’s commitment to NATO is “unshakeable”.

It marks a shift in language from the party’s leadership under Jeremy Corbyn, who said NATO should be disbanded in 2012 before later arguing it should focus on reducing “tensions around the world”.

The lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons said he would not authorise a nuclear strike - despite his party being committed to retaining Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Defence workers’ union GMB said it welcomed the “clarity” offered by Labour’s recommitment and its focus on British industry.

GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: “We also welcome calls to ensure the highly skilled manufacturing jobs in the defence industry and wider supply chain are kept and nurtured in the UK, including through the £1.5 billion Fleet Solid Support contract.

Mr Healey is expected to say on Friday that cuts to defence have undermined the Government’s Integrated Review into the UK’s future defence needs.

He will say that “at a time of geopolitical uncertainty and technological change” ministers must not “smother strategic decision-making in clouds of rhetoric and hubris”.

“We cannot any longer go fudging and fumbling our way into the future, with major procurement projects at the mercy of the illusion that ‘something will turn up’ to pay for them,” he will say.

The party earlier this month called for the Government to devise “a proper defence strategy” after a leaked Ministry of Defence report said the Army was running low on battle-ready soldiers.

Mr Healey said at the time the report obtained by the Daily Mail “raises the alarm on the readiness of our military”.

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