MPs Vote to Renew Trident

The Houses of Commons has voted by an overwhelming majority to renew the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons programme, with a fleet of new Successor-class submarines set to come into service in the 2030s.

As one of only nine countries to possess nuclear weapons capabilities, the Royal Navy has the potential to be one of the most destructive forces on Earth. Spearheaded by the controversial Trident programme designed during the cold war, but not operational until after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the British Isles are protected by a nuclear deterrent run by four Vanguard-class submarines carrying up to 40 nuclear warheads and patrolling around the clock.

Of course, during the Cold War – which was essentially a 45-year long staring contest between Russia and the West in which both sides developed huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons but neither side fired any for fear of retaliation – then the Trident nuclear deterrent may have seemed like an integral part of national security. However, today the threats we face do not stem from international disputes and conventional warfare, but rather from rogue states and global terrorism: two very unpredictable and non-standard threats that, unlike the conflicts leading to the horrific events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, can’t simply be concluded by letting off a few nuclear weapons.

One of the major implications of Trident is its exponential costs estimated at £31 billion to replace the ageing system. Another issue cited by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is the legality of using nuclear weapons, which, according to the Geneva academy, “could, under certain circumstances, amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, and/or war crimes.”

When questioned by SNP MP George Kerevan whether she would be willing to authorise “a nuclear strike that could kill 100,00o men women and children,” Theresa May brazenly responded “yes”, before going on to state the the whole point of maintaining a nuclear deterrent is to discourage our enemies, and so if we state we wouldn’t authorise a strike then the system is effectively nullified.