EXCLUSIVE: Trident vote pencilled in for end of July

Posted On: 
14th June 2016

MPs are set to vote on whether or not to renew Britain's nuclear weapons next month, PoliticsHome has learned.

The Royal Navy's 16,000 ton Trident-class nuclear submarine Vanguard
PA Images

Ministers have pencilled in the last week before the House of Commons' summer recess begins on 21 July for the crunch decision.

The Government supports Trident renewal, but MPs must vote on the so-called "main gate" phase of the project in order to give it formal approval.

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It is bound to cause a major split within the Labour party, which currently supports the nuclear deterrent.

Shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry - who is opposed to Trident - is leading a review of the party's policy and is due to report back on her initial findings later this month. Jeremy Corbyn is also a lifelong anti-nuclear campaigner.

A Commons source said: "Cameron wants to clear the decks before the summer recess. We already know we've got Chilcot coming in July, but he also wants to get the Heathrow decision and Trident dealt with as well."

One Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "The Tories want to pick an issue that will cause maximum discomfort to the Labour party and take attention away from their civil war over Europe. Trident is perfect for that, so it makes sense for them to bring forward the vote as soon as possible."

Mr Corbyn will be under huge pressure to give his MPs a free vote, as he did on bombing Syria, to head off a massive rebellion against his leadership by pro-Trident Labour backbenchers.

A Downing Street source said: "No final decision has been taken on when the Trident vote will be. There are various options being considered."