Tories want to avoid debating Trident renewal at Scottish Parliament elections


Plans to separate unpopular nuclear weapons vote from May election decision

A SENIOR WHITEHALL SOURCE has admitted that the Tory Government is running scared of debating the prospect of spending PS167bn on nuclear weapons during next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections.

Regarding the upcoming vote at the House of Commons on whether to renew the Scotland based weapons system, a government source told The Herald newspaper that the administration wanted “to get it out the way before the Scottish elections”.

The desire to avoid a show down between the Westminster government and the anti-Trident coalition in Scotland – which now includes 74 per cent of the Scottish Parliament and 97 per cent of Scotland’s MPs – has led to the Conservatives bringing forward the timetable on weapons of mass destruction support.

According to The Herald, a vote on a new generation of nuclear submarines for the weapons could even take place before Christmas or early in the new year to “diffuse the issue as much as possible ahead of the May 2016 Holyrood elections”.

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which has long been supported by the SNP and Green parties, received a boost when Scottish Labour changed its position to oppose nuclear weapons at its recent conference.

While Scottish Labour and UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn are opposed to Trident, UK Labour is currently reviewing its policy and is expected to abstain when a symbolic vote on Trident is called in London next week.

Without blanket Labour opposition Trident is certain to receive support in parliament. However, senior Tory MP Crispin Blunt has warned that Trident will now cost PS167bn over its lifetime – a cost that was “too high to be rational or sensible” for the UK military.

Last week UK Chancellor George Osborne raised concerns over the handling and costs of the Trident project.

Picture courtesy of Defence Images