Local Labour MPs divided on Trident
- Credit: Archant
Local Labour MPs were divided in the vote to renew Trident this week, as the bill easily passed through the Commons by 472 votes to 117.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq and Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West both opposed the replacement of four nuclear submarines, but Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer voted in favour of renewal.
The vote was not whipped, meaning MPs were free to vote according to their conscience.
Ahead of the vote, Mr Starmer, who recently resigned from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team, said his decision to vote in favour was in keeping with Labour Party policy that the UK should disarm only when all nations do so.
He said: “I want a world free of nuclear weapons and believe that multilateral disarmament is the most likely way to achieve this. Therefore I will vote to allow the renewal plans for Trident to continue at this stage.”
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The majority of Labour MPs took the same view as Mr Starmer and voted the bill through, putting them at odds with Mr Corbyn, who has long opposed having a nuclear deterrent.
Ms West, a shadow foreign office minister who has remained loyal to Mr Corbyn, said after the vote: “I have been a long standing critic of Trident, and indeed all nuclear weapons.
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“Use of such weapons of mass destruction would not only constitute the most serious breach of international law, it would most certainly slaughter thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians.”
She added: “In times where public services has been subjected to successive rounds of cuts, it seems utterly ludicrous to commit £205 billion to weapons system when we could be using that money to tackle real issues of human insecurity such as investing in policing to tackle crime, building 3 million more homes to tackle the housing crisis or building scores of new hospitals to improve our NHS.”
Ms Siddiq said: “After careful consideration, I decided to vote against the renewal.
“As an MP, I appreciate that the most important responsibility I have is safeguarding national security. I simply do not feel that the enemies we face today, particularly international terrorist organisations, are deterred by our Trident weapons system.”
Like Ms West, she said cost of renewing Trident was a key consideration in her decision.
She said: “At no point in the debate did the Prime Minister or defence secretary outline the through-life costs of Trident. I believe vast sums we will spend on Trident would be better invested in conventional armed forces and redoubling our international aid efforts.”
Ms Siddiq added that she thought an issue of such importance should have been given more than one session in the Commons for scrutiny.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Prime Minister Theresa May said without hesitation that she would be prepared to press the nuclear button in the event of an enemy attack.
Only one Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt, voted against renewal, whilst 47 Labour MPs did, along with the SNP and Liberal Democrats.
140 out of 230 Labour MPs, including Mr Starmer, voted with the government for renewal.