Labour MPs to get free vote on Trident renewal - Clive Lewis
Labour MPs will have a free vote on renewing Trident next week, the Shadow Defence Secretary has confirmed.
The Government will bring forward a Commons motion on retaining the nuclear deterrent next Monday.
Labour’s official party policy remains in favour of Trident renewal, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s longstanding opposition.
A review of the stance has been delayed since the decision to leave the European Union.
Clive Lewis, the newly-appointed Shadow Defence Secretary, was asked on Radio 4 whether Labour MPs would be whipped.
“No,” he replied.
“My understanding is it will be a free vote because we understand the Conservatives are playing political games with national security.
“The official line would be a non-whipped position.”
The comments immediately drew criticism from John Woodcock, the chair of the PLP’s defence committee, who branded it an “absurd, embarrassing abdication of responsibility on [a] crucial matter of national security and many thousands of jobs”.
Mr Lewis added that the growing demands in Scotland for a second independence referendum would play into the defence review, since the Trident submarines are stationed at Faslane.
Mr Corbyn himself yesterday hinted there could be a free vote, when he told the Andrew Marr Show:
“We are going to have to have a discussion about it. I recognise there are big differences of opinion on it.
“My views are very well known on this, the views of others are well known on this, and so there may well be MPs voting in different lobbies."