PM Gordon Brown has dismissed calls to torpedo the Trident missile replacement programme. Under the plans to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Barrow would build up to four big submarines to take over from the four Vanguard ones now in service.
That would guarantee work for the town’s shipyard up to around 2030. But Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has called for the plans to be kicked into the long grass. Mr Clegg said: “The PM is avoiding the difficult choices we have to make on long term spending which we have to make now if we are going to get any grip on the country’s finance. We can neither need nor can afford to replace Trident. He is planning to sign the first contract for the new Trident submarines this summer during recess when we are away. It is obvious he should not do that.”
Mr Brown says he had “set out his position” on the issue. Mr Brown said: “We have a long standing policy on Trident which is the policy of the government and has been voted on in the House of Commons. The most important thing to recognise is that we will work with other countries to secure multilateral disarmament.”
Earlier this week the think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, said the government should consider whether the submarine based system is the most cost-effective way of maintaining Britain’s “minimum” deterrent capability.
And support is growing among back bench MPs in Westminster to make no decisions over Trident during the economic downturn.
Any decision to scrap the Trident Replacement System – called the successor project in Barrow – would hit the shipyard hard and put the long term viability of thousands of jobs in doubt.
Concept designs are already being worked on at the yard.
Work on building the new subs would start in the next decade. The exiting ones need replacing in the 2020s.
The Evening Mail, Thursday 2 July 2009