Brexit chaos may further drive back vote on Trident renewal at Westminster
THE CHAIR of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Arthur West, has said that a vote for Trident renewal would be a “stupid move” by MPs at Westminster given that it could “inflame” the already strained relations between Scotland and the rest of the UK following Brexit.
Speaking to CommonSpace, he highlighted this as one of several reasons the long scheduled and repeatedly delayed vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system could be postponed again amid post-Brexit chaos.
Speaking about the Scottish political scene after the country voted to remain within the EU but faced the prospect of being taken out by the rest of the UK, he said: “It’s a factor that a vote would now inflame the situation.
“Politically it would be a stupid move for the Conservatives.
“If I was a Tory strategist, I would be saying ‘to be seen to be pressing ahead with the current situation in Scotland would not be very sensible’.”
The days following the vote for brexit saw Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon travel to Brussels in order to protect Scotland’s links with Europe. However she has also made clear that another vote on Scottish independence is “highly likely”.
West also argued that the vote could be delayed again, bringing its viability into question
“First the vote was scheduled for March or April, then it was postponed until July,” West said.
“Now there is a new situation.
“Things are in such turmoil, and the Tories are in such a mess that this could probably set the vote back.
He added: “With the tories in such a mess, are they in any fit state to progress on so vital an issue?
“The answer from me would be a definite no.”
The vote on the renewal of the Trident system, estimated by anti-nuclear weapons campaigners to cost as much as £205bn and based at Faslane on the Clyde, has been postponed repeatedly in 2016 due to ongoing constitutional and political uncertainty.
Now West believes that a vote could also be impacted by a move away from austerity policies by the UK chancellor.
“George Osborne has abandoned the idea of running a budget surplus by 2020,” West said.
The chancellor has abandoned his most extreme plans for further austerity cuts over fears that the UK economy will be hit by an exit from the EU, and West said that this represented a boost for the argument that Trident was too expensive for a country in the UK’s fiscal condition.
“There’s a real opportunity for us to get that message across,” he said.
West argued that the multiple difficulties now faced by a Conservative government attempting a vote on Trident renewal should be exploited by campaigners.
He urged members of the public to engage in a CND organised lobby of the Westminster parliament on 13 July.
He said: “We will be lobbying the parliament, and Scottish CND will be sending representation to that.
“We organised this before the brexit situation, but I think now it’s more appropriate than even
“Members of the public who can’t attend the lobby should phone their MP and make sure they are voting against renewal.”
With 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs being nationalists, who are dedicated in their opposition to Trident renewal, and with Ian Murray, Scotland’s only Labour MP saying he will oppose renewal, Westminster faces the possibility of voting for Trident system that will be based in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish people.
The Scottish Parliament voted against Trident renewal, with 74 per cent of MSPs voting to oppose the replacement of the weapons system.
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