The UK’s nuclear deterrent

Some people have written to me asking me to oppose the orders for four new submarines to carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Last night I voted with the government to approve the purchase of the vessels. I did so because I campaigned on the Conservative Manifesto without signalling my dispute with this measure in it. I did so because I agree with the government that a submarine force is the best means of retaining an independent deterrent, with at least one submarine always at sea in waters unknown.

Some object because they believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament. The UK has gone a long in way in reducing warheads and  missiles as part of the multilateral disarmament undertaken in the post Cold War world. There is no evidence that a single country unilaterally disarming would achieve any reduction in the armaments of other states, but plenty of evidence to show that multilateral agreements do cut the numbers of weapons held by existing nuclear powers.

There is the ever present threat that more states will develop effective nuclear weapons. There is also the outside risk of some such weapons falling into dangerous hands in badly run or strife torn parts of the world.  In such a world it does add to our security that we have our own capability.

Some argue there is no point in having them as we will never use them. That is to misunderstand their role as a deterrent. We use them every day by deploying the submarines with them. Everyday they are at sea and we are not threatened by a nuclear power or weapon, the deterrent has worked.

Yesterday’s debate was most unusual. It is not uncommon for groups of backbench MPs to stick to long held principles and express views different to their front bench. It is not easy to go against the party line, but I certainly found it necessary when we were battling to get an EU referendum, and trying to stop the transfer of more powers to the EU. It is almost unprecedented to see the Leader of the Opposition defending his long held view on something  as important as nuclear weapons, with most of his party in disagreement. They demanded time and again that he followed the party policy he had inherited. There was something magnificent about his determination to change the policy and stick to his principles when he had so many votes and voices against him, even though I disagree with his viewpoint.

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92 Comments

  1. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Good lord after your unremitting nonsense about the the EU something I more or less agree with. The last section in which you praise Corbyn forn sticking to a principle no matter what danmage it does to the country brought me back to earth.
    I have long considered the Brexit phenomena and the Corbyn thing as two sides of the same coin , a sort of madness in which stable sensible government has been replaced by theatrics and (ugh) populism

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      The population is right far more often the the government or the elected representatives. This is not that surprising as they are voting honestly usually in their own interests and tend not to suffer the ‘group think’ you can get in governments and sections of society. They are however sometimes mislead by government.

      They would never have gone into the EU, never have littered the countryside with pointless intermittent wind turbines, never have allowed open door immigration, never have built the millennium dome, never have agreed to gold plated pensions and the over remuneration in the state sector, never have agreed with all the motorist mugging and absurd over taxation and complexity. Certainly never agreed to subsidise and augment the feckless so much with tax payers money. Not would they agree to have so many dangerous people with mental Heath issues in the community committing about 2 murders a week. Never have fallen so for all the scares such a the millennium bug, climate alarmism, swine, bird flu, BSE and the likes. They would have kept academic selection at schools too I suspect. They would never allow a 40 % wealth tax/theft on death. Can you imagine them voting for all the bonkers HS2 or expensive, largely pointless missions to outer space when the money can save lives on earth?

      Can you I imagine the public telling the police to prioritise wolf whistling as a hate crime?

      Oh and I agree with retaining the Nuclear Deterrent as I suspect do the public.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        That is definitely a thought provoking post LL.

        zorro

      • Posted July 22, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        For a sane analysis of the Trident question, no-one could have put it better than Mhairi Black and I commend her comments in the House. I used to support a nuclear deterrent for the same reasons as Mr Redwood. I have changed my mind. I have listened to the other side of the debate and, as if often the case, I find that the nuanced argument is more persuasive once it has been grasped.

        Capricious voter that I am, I have also changed my mind about supporting Labour, having never voted Labour in my life, not because I think Labour is suddenly not full of self serving casuists, distinguishable only from Conservatives by the number of chins on display, but because I see, in Jeremy Corbyn, a chance finally to break the grip of Establishment vested interests that are asset stripping society and enriching the very few at the expense of the many. Jeremy Corbyn has spent the last thirty years fighting for the less fortunate and against corruption and injustice. He has maintained his integrity and, in my eyes, proved himself to be the kind of politician I have yearned to see all these years. His obvious decency, integrity, modesty and tenacity are the very reasons why the Establishment are so desperate to get rid of him and that’s good enough for me.

        Who am I? I’m not a “Trot” or a “scrounger” or a left wing student. I’m a middle aged locum solicitor with a music teacher son and a secretary daughter and a partner who works fifty hours a week making furniture. I’m neither rich nor poor. I’m no-one special. I don’t fit any of Lifelogic’s stereotypes or Newmania’s hypothesis but I suspect I am very typical of the vast groundswell of support rising up for Jeremy Corbyn and who have paid money we couldn’t afford to join up and vote for him and look forward to day when he is able to clear out the Blair debris and attract in others like him. Then we will have proper Government.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      If you don’t think like Newmania you’re mad. Got that ?

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        JR, Political claptrap. You must have been laughing when writing this blog. How is your view sincere when the greatest magnificent deception is May being PM, without public mandate, and leading a govt that does not believe in its central policy of leaving the EU! After all you told us he much of our laws, regulation and directives came from the unelected dictatorship! May wanted this to continue, as did the majority of the cabinet she has now chosen!

        Come on, there are better things to write about and to encourage your Europhile govt to act on the publics wishes ASAP.

        17 million voted to leave and May still states parliament does not have an appetite to leave the ECHR! We know MP are dominated by Europhile fanatic views but the public does not share that view.come on, do something about it.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        That is not unusual for those on the far Left of politics.
        In its extreme socialist dictatorships often rule that any opposition are mad and send them off for treatment in camps.
        Small current examples are the rising level of personal abuse towards all who voted Leave and the rising violence and harassment shown towards UKIP politicians and the mob outside Mr Johnsons home.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Yes, the “nonsense” of 20-odd countries – rich and poor – trying to fit themselves into the same economic straitjacket?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Which part of JR’s posts on the EU do you regard as nonsense?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      newmania is wrong and John is totally correct –
      A politician’s job is to REPRESENT his constituents, not to make his own mind up regardless of their opinions.
      Ironically, if Corbyn had show the courage of his convictions before the referendum and lead the BREXIT vote instead of following the establishment, he would be in a fantastic position now, as the only party leader in the HOC that got what he wanted. I am relieved every day to see that Mrs May’s government is speeding ahead with BREXIT plans, I only wish I could help with this best project – returning Britain’s democracy and delivering the UK from under the Jackboot of the Europeans.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        “A politician’s job is to REPRESENT his constituents, not to make his own mind up regardless of their opinions.”

        But you know that if the majority of Mr Redwood’s constituents told him they wanted to remain it wouldn’t influence him. Even the fact that 57% of the voters in the Wokingham district, which includes his constituency, voted Remain doesn’t move him because the district covered more than one MP’s constituency. As a Remainer I actually like that logic because it could be applied by any pro-EU MP in a multi-constituency referendum district that voted Leave (“so what if 80% voted Leave, I am assuming the 20% who voted Remain live in the bit that I am responsible for”). If the Article 50 question ever comes to a Parliamentary vote I would be quite happy if MPs decided to take this selective approach to “representing” their constituents.

        Reply There is no rule or requirement for an MP to vote in a referendum the same way as the majority of constituents turn out to vote – not something you can know for certain in advance anyway if it is close – as each constituent has their own vote and the MP also just has one vote! We are all equal in a referendum. In a Parliamentary vote it is different, as there the MP represents constituents. The MP also has to reflect the party Manifesto he stood on, his own personal Manifesto he stood on, and his personal judgement of the issue at the time. Again there is no requirement or ability to vote every time in accordance with the majority view on the issue in the constituency. In most cases we do not know what the majority view is because most of the issues/motions that come before us are not debated by constituents first. We make judgements about issues, then voters make judgements about us.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Your claim about the manifesto is a total sham and you know it. Look at the failure of your govt and party. Cameron changed a Union bill for cash to support remaining in the EU from the unions having made it a manifesto pledge! Gay marriage, where did that feature? Balancing the structural deficit, now abandoned as if it does not matter! May stood to be elected on this as well.

          • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

            It is quite clear that once elected MPs (whatever their party) do what they please (after they “make judgements about issues”). Whether they “consult” or not their constituents is irrelevant.
            Obviously “voters make judgements about” MPs, but the First Past The Post voting system make a potentially large number of voters without a voice in any General Election.

      • Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Whether or not we leave the EU is now in the hands of judges. If they pass the decision to Parliament then with its present membership across both Houses that will be the end of Brexit plans.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Is not populism a word used by people who consider themselves superior and who disagree with a large number of people on whom they look down ? They see no need to examine the reasons for those views because they always know best.

  2. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I hope there are contingency plans for moving it all out of Scotland. Not that I want that, but if so many Scots continue to support the SNP then it may become necessary.

    Isn’t it long overdue for a UK Prime Minister to have the courage to remind the SNP that foreign affairs, including relations with the EU, and the defence of the realm, are all reserved matters, and so the Scottish devolved authorities have no more legal right to meddle in them than Kent County Council?

    Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998, here:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/46/schedule/5

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Denis,

      Agreed with your paragraph 1. It would be difficult (impossible?) seeing the Faslane area being to rUK as Kalingrad is to Russia.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Dennis, Cameron had the chance to move other naval work to England but tried to buy the Scotts off. Foolish logic. Fair and reasonable to the distribution of jobs not political stupidity. The Welsh need and should get better help for jobs. EU destroying steel industry, coal industry gone etc.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          And you forgot, the EU is responsible for within 10 years the dismantling of the UK’s microprocessor industry.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      It will not have to be moved from Scotland they need the jobs and the money. Sturgeon and the SNP will be very unpopular indeed politically quite soon and rightly so. The SNP’s economic policies will not work. She will of course blame the English for this, but it will not wash.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        I don’t think we would base our nuclear deterrent in a foreign country if we could avoid doing that. It could be that after Scotland had separated from the rest of the UK we would say that as a concession its citizens will still not be treated as foreigners, as with Irish citizens, but nonetheless Scotland would become a foreign country, like the Irish Republic.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Am I right in thinking that Irish Republic citizens have the right to vote in UK elections, and are you proposing the same for Scotland in the case of it achieving complete independence?

          • Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            I’m not proposing anything, just noting the precedent. Irish citizens can vote in our elections and we can vote in (at least most of) theirs, which should be stopped, and they could also vote in our referendum, which should never have been allowed because we are not allowed to vote in any of their referendums.

          • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            And am I right in thinking English students have to pay fees at Scottish universities which the Scots and continentals do not?

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          You have to wonder about NATO basing part of its nuclear deterrent in Turkey. Perhaps it will have to retreat to Cyprus (Akrotiri) instead.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          The northern Irish are quite happy to take on the submarine bases and tender for any ship building that Scotland would use.

          I take it that an independent Scotland would not join NATO, who’s last resort weaponry is a nuclear arsenal.

          • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

            One of the unintended consequences of Brexit is the possibility of the reunification of Ireland.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        I think Surgeon and the SNP would become unpopular quickly were Scotland to go independent – as it would then need to move radially to the right to survive and be solvent. A Thatcher for Scotland would be needed. In the meantime, with the vast majority of public spending in Scotland funded by the rest of the UK, the SNP will continue to be able buy popularity with high spending policies and blame ‘Westminster’ (ie England) for anything bad.

        It might be an idea for Mrs May to call Sturgeons bluff and have another referendum, and lance the boil of Scottish separatism for 100 years.

  3. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    What is worrying about decision on the next phase of the Trident submarine programme is – according to a recent press report – the inability of the MoD/Government to control the spend and timescales in which these new systems will be delivered and also the quality of the work.

    It appears that the BAe & Rolls Royce work on the current Astute Class submarines leaves much to be desired. Do you have any thoughts and comments about this.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      Indee the state sector is appalling at procuring things efficiently.

      Well what do they care it is not there money they are so often wasting? Their interests are usually just about keeping their jobs and their power bases intact. The last thing they want to do is finish the job!

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        The supreme example is the Nimrod MRA4 programme …despite having sunk 3Bn into the project and having a working prototype , Mr Cameron pulled the plug and is now looking at a bill of 3.2Bn to buy inferior US P-8 Poseidons.. Meanwhile hundreds of workers lost their jobs and the Uk’s balance of payments took a hit..how is that a good deal?
        Now the same people are trying to sell us Trident…

        Nimrod had cost and time overruns but they were not out of line with similar military projects. The trouble was arrogant and ignorant politicians were put in charge who didn’t understand what they were doing..

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          “arrogant and ignorant politicians were put in charge who didn’t understand what they were doing” this alas is the normal situation.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Trevor said RR work on Astute submarines leaves much to be desired.

        I have no idea about these technicalities, but Govt does indeed have a poor record of procurement, but as you know it does not actually manufacture anything, it is just a customer.
        Why do you constantly carp that governments cannot produce anything of worth, when in fact it is most likely the private sector taking the state sector for a ride? Rubbish computer systems for the NHS, overpriced drugs for the NHS, warships that don’t work properly in warm water are just three cases in point, most projects are way overpriced and poorly manufactured. Poor project management by govt of course, but the manufacture is by private enterprise, so why not acknowledge that? Big corporations are not much better at things than big government.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      It is reported that the government has added a £9 billion contingency to the budget for these submarines, no doubt to cover the cost of redesign because of spec changes or things that do not work as intended or stuff that just gets screwed up.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      The problem is the MOD are constantly changing the spec. Equipment is ordered and manufacturing starts and then a modification is deemed necessary and the costs escalate.
      It is like the design of a Camel. Done by committee.
      Unilateral disarmament falls into the same nonsense as the CCA. We have blackouts and offshore industry due too power shortages whilst Germany builds dozens of Lignite power stations. In many cases utilising equipment from closed down UK coal fired stations.
      idiots in charge = idiotic policies.

      • Posted July 21, 2016 at 4:31 am | Permalink

        Very unfair to the Camel, which is an excellent “design” or rather evolution to suit its sandy desert environment. If only the MOD could do that well.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      So whose fault is it? MoD/Government or BAE/RollsRoyce? Depending on how pathological one’s state of mind is, even without trying to get more details on the question, one at 06:33 am has got the answer. How fortunate is England to have such clever people!

  4. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Good for Jeremy Corbyn sticking to his principles on this – it would have been absurd humbug for him to have voted for Trident to go along with Labour’s old policy having opposed it all his life.

    Labour do still need to decide however whether they are a party of parliamentary democracy or not. They cannot be with Mr Corbyn as leader as he clearly has negligible support from amongst Laboir MPs and derives his support from the street and the political meeting.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      A shame Corbyn did not stick to his principles over the EU in the referendum, where he used to be right on the issue for 40 years or so. Thinking as he did in the Tony Benn mode. What on earth made him change his mind and vote for the end of any real democracy?

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        That rather negates his claim of being a principled politician. It is obvious that he was not really behind staying so he should have said so not jumped into the nearest leave closet. Hypocrite.

        It is telling that what he is prepared to be principled about is the very ill thought out and ill conceived principle of unilateral disarmament. Anyone who believes that by facing a well armed enemy without being equally as well armed is going end up having a friendly chat with them instead of being annihilated by them is living in coo coo land.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Last paragraph , very good point A. Absolutely absurd and illogical position

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Tony Benn, when Anthony Wedgewood Benn was in favour of the Common Market. At that time he hoped to inherit from Mr Wilson and was all for the white hot heat of technology etc. He favoured nuclear power for instance, the more risky PWRs over the more expensive but safer AGRs. When he realized he hadn’t enough parliamentary support to become leader, he decided to build a power base outside parliament and pinch the leadership of the left. He jumped on the CND, anti Common Market, pro rainbow alliance bandwagon and never jumped off.

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          The AGR refuelling plant is complex to operate and maintain. In worst cases, it limits the yearly output from the power station. In comparison PWR’s is much simpler.
          The AGR boiler pressure is much higher than that in the reactor so a steam engine tube failure results in boiler water entering the AGR primary coolant.
          Main difference is that AGR has much hotter steam & primary circuit gas than a PWR, so the plant qualification must tolerate these higher temperatures.
          While in principle safer, AGR lost to PWR. In the UK Magnox and AGR plants are dominating the park, but they are mainly unique to the UK. PWR design was adopted from the USA by the French and resulted in many more PWR-based plants over the world, because of known technology, relatively simple reactors, simple refuelling plant, plenty of experience to base a (modified) design on, good reliability, more (commercial) certainty in costs and risks.

          • Posted July 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

            Thank you, hefner. I agree with all you say about the French getting PWRs from the Americans and the PWRs being sold all round the world for the reasons you give, but at that time, AGRs had been cleared for siting near cities and PWRs hadn’t. Cleared by us, that is.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Richard1

      “Good for Jeremy….”

      Shame Mr Corbyn did not stick to his principles over Brexit when he used the Party Line excuse for not speaking up for his own true beliefs and voting record.

      Seems it only principles when it suits a particular situation.

      So not really principled at all !!!!.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      “…derives his support from the street and the political meeting”

      And just what is wrong with that?Political parties should belong to their members and not just be empty vessels that the Establishment pours it’s slops into.

      Perhaps,without the irony,you take Brecht’s view that we should dissolve the people and appoint a new one more to your liking.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        No the Point I am making is in a parliamentary democracy the govt is formed by having a majority in parliament. Politicians will of course try to win public support, but if the leader of a party owes his position to acclamation of a mob rather than parliamentary support, democracy is threatened.

  5. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    “There was something magnificent about his determination to change the policy and stick to his principles when he had so many votes and voices against him, even though I disagree with his viewpoint.

    Exactly ! And that is why I like both of you so much. Even thought we disagree on things to the point of blind fury (well in my case), we can sometimes stand back and admire the principle of the conviction.

    And to go off topic slightly, this is why we do not fit into the EU way of doing things. Our politics is an ‘adversarial’ system,. The two opposing bench stand two swords lengths apart. The European system is totally different. Our political system favours the ‘Conviction’ Politician (Thatcher) and not the Consensus Politician (Major). The UK likes its leaders to be strong in their opinions and beliefs and requires them to fight for those beliefs. As you sometimes annoyingly do.

    You voted with the government on Trident because you did not oppose it in your election manifesto. Others opposed membership of the EU then changed their minds. Are we now to ask; “Can we trust these people ?”

    I confess to be a fence sitter on Trident. I can see both sides of the argument but have no absolute position. It is a curious thing to purchase something that you hope never to use.

  6. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood you did not vote for an independent deterrent. You voted for what we’ve already got – a deterrent that cannot be used without Washington’s approval. How is that independent?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes questionable independent and who it is going to deter? ‘Dangerous hands’ are not going to be worried and the main stream would never use one because it would destroy them as well as their opposition.

      This is old Cold War macho posturing. We should spend the money on more conventional forces, so that we can ‘take out’ the Mavericks and beef up our homeland security.

      This decision to spend such vast sums in this way decreases our security not increases it.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Lord West, if he is right, has scotched this – he says we are completely independent of the US in the use of Trident. I am surprised that JR didn’t reply to that, one way or the other.

      Reply Yes it is independent. I already have said that. I would not use the word independent if it is not independent!

  7. Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Corbyn doesn’t deserve that much praise – for example he has been a principled Brexiter for the last 30 years but switched to Remain purely for political reasons.

  8. Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Could someone just clear-up whether UK’s nuclear deterrent is actually independent i.e. can be maintained and operated completely free of allies?

    It has been said before that USA, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, (Israel) … have truly independent deterrents but UK no longer has, e.g. relying on USA for missile servicing. If UK no longer has a truly independent deterrent what would it take to produce one?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      The Trident missiles are leased to us and maintained by US companies; our nuclear weapons facilities are also operated by US companies. We do not have an independent nuclear deterrent. As with many areas of advanced technology, particular, nuclear, we have been deskilled by our politicians.

      As members of NATO, we are with our ‘allies’ at the top of the list of countries to be visited by US weapons systems salesmen, even if what that have to sell is a hyper-expensive lame duck (F35B).

      Now I see yet another leading edge technology company has been allowed to be taken over by a Japanese company, furthermore a company with a balance sheet heaving with debt just like with the takeover over Cadburys; perhaps people remember the promises made when another Japanese company took over ICL?

      Brexit is fine but independence takes many forms which arguably are just as important as not been ruled by the Brussels regime: we are not a first world country unless we own our own high technology businesses and their technology.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        Another nail in the coffin…I’m sure Mr Hammond et al foolishly welcome the Japanese for their ‘investment’. So much for Mrs May’s new industrial strategy.

        France recently blocked the sale of Danone because it was considered to be a strategic asset…the UK should be just as tough. .As usual the British government will have to wait for a crisis to occur before it will change direction or do anything but then it will be too late.

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Yes,never forget when governments trumpet figures for inward investment they include the value of take-overs of existing businesses;it’s not as some people might suppose just the capital applied to the setting up of new factories and other operations by foreigners.

          • Posted July 21, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            Indeed they then ignore the loss of profits to the economy and the harm this does to the current account deficit and pretend the new ‘investors’ wont just asset strip and re-locate factories and jobs as it suits them..

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      re also my previous post it is surprising that JR cannot clear up this point – perhaps the answer is top secret.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Caterpillar:

      Notwithstanding other strands of the argument: the fact that one country does not have a nuclear weapon and does not have thermally melted rock, soil, animals and human beings on its land-mass is a problem for the intricacies of discussion.

      If three countries, …not under the umbrella of a larger and more powerful nuclear weapon holder, also, was bereft of radioactivity or even occupation by foreign forces, this would be a talking point.

      But there are more than three.

      What does a pro-nuclear weaponist MP do if he meets a nice young woman from a non-nuclear country, decides to emigrate there, have children, stays there for decades. Does he hope to get elected there as an MP by insisting the country should have its own nuclear weapon or hope to get elected in his new country by being non-nuclear in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

      For most mortals, this would be a dilemma. But for a professional politician I dare say to be right and have an opposite view one to the other and still be right is a mere bagatelle and the bread-and-butter of Parliamentary Representative Democracy

  9. Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Nicola Sturgeon saying she has a veto over Brexit is very worrying. Is that Theresa May’s get out of article 50 card? It is bad enough that the SNP have turned Scotland into a one party state but for them to control the destiny of the rest of us is not acceptable. The Scots appear not to know what types they have running their country(watermelons[green on the outside red on the inside], CND, nationalists of the worst kind [up there with the Nazis party])and the fact they are doing so very badly they do not seem to care. If Scotland were to break away from the union it will be something that they will live to regret. SNP will then be seen for what they are a bunch of incompetent loons.

  10. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, this morning:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/19/government-awaits-first-legal-opposition-to-brexit-in-high-court

    “Government awaits first legal opposition to Brexit in high court”

    “Lawyers representing a British citizen bringing the case claim article 50 can only be triggered if authorised by parliament”

    Now why should opponents of Brexit want to claim that?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      There you go, opponents of Brexit have gained at least three months in which to connive and find ways to stop it:

      Thanks to Cameron not doing what he promised/threatened he would do, which was to trigger Article 50 immediately.

      But then also:

      “Jason Coppel QC for Brexit Secretary David Davis: triggering article 50 will not occur before end of 2016.”

      So that another two months more, at least, that our opponents have been given.

      Anybody want to offer odds that we will never leave the EU?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      It looks like a mess of an application. They’ve cited the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as the respondent (who was Letwin, the temporary Brexit minister) – not the PM, whose job it will be to submit an Article 50 notice to the Council. I’ve followed some of the debate at the UK Constitutional Law Association. I think they are just going through the motions, and unless the judge exhibits extraordinary bias, the motion that will succeed will be a motion to dismiss…

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        It’s got them another three months during which the government could not put in the Article 50 notice even if it changed its mind and wanted to.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        The case is of constitutional importance, primarily because of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty.

        The full hearing looks set to take place in late October in front of the LCJ and 1-2 other judges and then possibly on appeal to the UK Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeal. But don’t be surprised if HMG now agree to Parliament being involved because they will want to avoid risking any further curtailments on the Royal Prerogative by the courts.

        There is also the risk of a referral to the CJEU in Luxembourg (e.g. can Art 50 be rescinded if triggered?). However, HMG might welcome such a move because it provides them with an excuse to blame another actor for further Art 50 delay.

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          There would be no logic in agreeing to Parliament becoming involved in the decision now that the people have already voted to leave, given that parliamentarians had multiple opportunities to assert a claim to control the service of an Article 50 notice before we voted but they could never be bothered to do so. That would simply be an act of surrender to lazy inattentive parliamentarians to the grave detriment of the people, and rather than avoiding further curtailments on the Royal Prerogative it would encourage them to think they could rely on the courts to do their job for them.

  11. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    A previous correspondent used the term “populism – ugh”. Politicians actions should reflect the views of the electorate, their employers. If not what are they for? How do the electorate get their views implemented? Who does employ the politicians, who is their employer? Are they responsible to some higher power who knows better than what the proles want?
    Well done for voting to replace Trident. Perhaps it is time for slowly investing in Falmouth or elsewhere down South to replace the Scottish facilities bit by bit to neutralise the SNP who also need to be reminded that they only represent an electorate of around 8% of the U.K. Population ( and not all of these) and have influence commensurate with this.

  12. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    We should increase our nuclear deterrent and wind back our conventional forces. The Russian troops are likely to be on steroids and we can’t compete with that.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Anonymous, if we wind back our conventional forces any further they will be non existent, they are already looking at putting new recruits on the front line having only just completed basic training to boost the numbers.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      I think we will need more of a navy to protect our borders and fisheries. How much we contribute to foreign adventures and defences sets much of the need for army and airforce elements. Russia is probably not the most important threat we face as the UK, although we might get dragged in if European countries mismanage things.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        Following John Kerry’s talk with BoJo today, the navy will shortly be off to the South China Sea.

  13. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Of course we must retain a nuclear deterrent and it offers far better value for money compared to the ever wasteful National Health Service.

    As for Mr Corbyn, it seems his support is derived principally from street thugs who throw bricks through windows, use foul language at public meetings and hurl abuse at political opponents.

    etc ed

    Reply HIs support is not principally any such thing, but it is the support of law abiding Labour party members

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Are you quite sure, Mr Redwood? It’s understandable that MPs on both sides, who have known Mr Corbyn a very long time indeed and grown indulgent to his foibles, will have one opinion of their quaint old colleague. But out here among the commonalty we get a less benign impression.

      We see a neo-puritan armoured in impregnable self-rectitude, equivocal to the excesses of his supporters, reluctant to condemn, even less so to restrain. “Law-abiding Labour members” in their tens of thousands will be feeling not just dismay but, I suspect, anxiety and even physical fear.

      In a few weeks it will be the conference season. Then we shall see.

      During the last Conservative conference there was much bad behaviour from spitting, hooting mobs on the streets. That appeared acceptable when the victims were the Tory enemy. Now Labour people are on the receiving end they are less complacent. What cannot be denied is that political activity is not improved by it, that it is increasing, and that Mr Corbyn seems willing to profit from it as and when it suits him. He is riding a tiger and appears to find the seat comfortable.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Indeed how do you know who threw the brick and they are not typical at all of Corbyn supporters. The more I see of Angela Eagle the more I warm to Corbyn even if his policies would be an economic disaster. But then it is Labour after all. L

  14. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I fear our leaders are suffering from delusions of grandeur….and economic illiteracy.
    They are incapable of distinguishing between the creation of value and the recycling of value. They also lack the courage to tell people that they need to live within their means…
    Context is needed here. Britain remains massively indebted. “Real economy” debt, at £4.65 trillion or 250% of GDP, may not sound too onerous, but this excludes the financial sector, which adds a further 183% to this ratio. The British government has massive off-balance-sheet “quasi-debts”, with its commitment to government employee pensions alone standing at about 55% of GDP.

    Like HS2, the replacement of Trident is simply unaffordable for a country that relies on the selling of assets and borrowing to sustain a lifestyle it does not earn. The money would be far better spent on a more modest nuclear deterrent and better border enforcement and policing.
    Meanwhile to save money power generating capacity has been cut to the bone leaving us reliant on grovelling to China for nuclear capacity.
    So money for Trident but not nuclear power generation that would secure our long term wealth and stability. It beggars belief.

    The UK’s manufacturing base is in a downward spiral……how is an increasing number of ‘value recycling jobs’ such as estate agents and coffee waiters going to pay for these big projects…when a downward spiral of money in the form of dividends and profits will increasingly be leaving the country as what is left of the ‘family silver’ is sold off.
    Lunatics are in charge of the asylum it sometimes seems…

  15. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/690729/france-civil-war-jonathan-miller-nice-attack-extremism-marine-le-pen

    This is a worry.

    France on the verge of civil war over terror. Unlikely Turkey this really is on our doorstep.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Unlike (not unlikely)

  16. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, there are some irritating and damaging misunderstandings about Article 50 TEU in this article and in some of the comments made by readers, which seem to have become widely accepted by people who don’t bother to read the actual treaty text or think about what it means:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/07/adam-wildman-article-50-can-be-a-great-bargaining-chip-but-only-if-we-hold-our-nerve-and-delay.html

    “Article 50 can be a great bargaining chip, but only if we hold our nerve and delay”

    The original purpose of these misinterpretations was just the same as everything else in Project Fear, to deter people from voting to leave the EU; but now we’ve had the vote and the decision has been taken it’s really time to drop all that nonsense.

  17. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    A sensible decision, but employing a nuclear deterrent should not allow us to become complacent. There are states in this World who do not operate using logic, or if they do it is not based on western norms. Were ISIS to aquire the means from let us say North Korea, they would consider anhialation as an acceptable outcome of a retaliatory strike. Such is their insane logic. Nor should it slow our response to constantly changing conventional threats. Firm borders responsibly and humanely policed will I hope become our first line of defence. We then need to build internally a one nation , one language state operating under English or Scottish law with no exceptions. Another essential is a strong education system dissemenating British values as well as academic education to a level that challenges pupils of all levels of ability. Immigrants present and arriving in the future should be in no doubt as to what is expected of them and their children. Those who cannot accept this have many alternatives to choose from worldwide. Allowing the creation of ghettoised ethnic communities operating under the rules of whence they came is totally unacceptable, and highly dangerous to the cohesion of the UK.

  18. d
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I support Corbyn for sticking to his principles on nukes. He is after all a leading light in CND and has held these views for many years.

    It’s just a shame that he didn’t do the same with his long held and publicly proclaimed opposition to the EU during the referendum campaign.

    Principles when it suits you are not principles worthy of praise in my book…

  19. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Which would you rather pay for – Trident or HS2 ?

  20. Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    To jump in on the labour leader supports being street thugs who throw bricks through windows, if you look at photo the glass is on the outside of the building and media did not go inside because there was nothing to see and as for being undemocratic, i think you will fined that its the 172 labour PMs that are not democratic with the NEC who are changing the goalposts before a election of the party leader.

  21. Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Fortunately.
    In real-politik; geo-political realpolitik. And my privately obtained information sources despite other ” I’ve been ( or now ) work on a UK nuclear submarine ” which, they would be forbidden to articulate for the rest of their lives even if remotely true:….None of the Vanguard Nuclear Submarines are manned by British sailors, only Americans. ( Yes I’ve seen our TV “documentaries” with a tour of the inside showing: faces of British crew ..as if..)
    America, anyway, would not in British MPs mutually exclusive sets of wildest dreams have a four-boat armada controlled by even an ally, especially an ally, who could by reckless use or mistake, lead to America engaging in a thermal nuclear war and its own annihilation. That would be America-Stupid.
    Americans are of one mind. They see to security. Thank God.

  22. Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Do you not find it hypocritical that we have a nuclear deterrent yet refuse to let other nations develop this same technology?

    I do find it strange that we have a habit of forcing other nations to abide by our rules and refuse to abide to them ourselves or worse yet, intervene in states that had they had a nuclear deterrent we wouldn’t have intervened?

    If I was the leader of North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, or other nation, I would progress with developing nuclear weaponry at whatever financial cost on the sole purpose of thwarting the west’s interfering foreign policy!

    We as a nation are hypocritical on this issue, and I actually applaud Corbyn on his view. Plus, the idea that we would retaliate on a nation with nuclear weaponry (which is the threat) when we know the devastation it causes is abhorrent!

    On an alternative, even if we were to keep nuclear weaponry, I do not think we need a submarine to utilise it.

  23. Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    It is one thing having a nuclear deterrent, quite another being able to protect it.

    According to the defence committee evidence our new Frigates, the Type 26, are only 60% designed despite being on the drawing board since 1998 and over a billion quid spent on the programme. With the cut in numbers from 13 to 8 this means that each vessel will cost £125 million purely in program costs rather than steel and defence systems.

    They were meant to start building this year, instead they have been pushed back to 2018.

    A replacement for the Type 23s which were meant to last for 17 years, HMS Argyll will be 34 years old by the time it decommissions, and will likely not have a replacement even in the water.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      By the way could you find out what the RN’s budget actually is?

      Seems to be clouded in management doublespeak on the Mod website.

  24. Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    ian:
    Glass does not have a vote. Even if it did, it would be transparently clear that Angela Eagle will not be made Labour Party leader. Corbyn will win. Her behaviour, anyway, in argument on TV is less than acceptable, more a raucous quarrel. Does not command respect. More notable Labour politicians are too cowardly to stand against him .So she at least has guts. But unprincipled for all that.

  25. Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Mention of Jeremy Corbyn abandoning his principles and switching to Remain, brings me directly to our present PM who did the exact opposite. Not satisfied with that TM last week spoke in support of blocking sales of important British companies to foreign owners but now appears to look favourably (together with the new chancellor) on the sale of ARM to a Japanese asset stripper. A week is indeed a long time in politics and principles are easily abandoned.

  26. Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    JR – Everyday they are at sea and we are not threatened by a nuclear power or weapon, the deterrent has worked.

    That’s a bit like saying that ‘everyday I eat an apple.. I don’t get sick so apples must prevent disease’. I’m not convinced.

  27. Posted July 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    i see the government has given up on the migration target, so not so much support for the manifesto there

  28. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    And then there were none. No Eagle jokes here about taking flight, flying the nest, sleeping in a tree, swooping on lambs with talons digging in. No. Angela Eagle has declared she is not going to remove Mr Corbyn after all but is leaving it to a man.

    I cannot remember the man’s name, but, well he’s a man and that’s more than half the battle as far as the Labour Party is concerned. I know many thought Harriet Harman MP QC might be a good candidate on account of her having “man” in her SURname but no. Hilary… Benn was discounted for obvious reasons.

  29. Posted July 19, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Nuclear weapons are horrible things. I can understand your point of view but why aren’t we (including you) pressing for another round of multi-lateral reduction of nukes, say a 2/3 reduction in the USA and Russian arsenals, with appropriate reductions elsewhere.

    If a nation has the capacity to destroy two major cities of any potential adversary, it has sufficient deterrence. Why pay for more?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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