Michael Fallon: Theresa May willing to launch pre-emptive nuclear strike

Posted On: 
24th April 2017

Theresa May would be willing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against a country thinking of attacking the UK, Michael Fallon has said.

The Tories have begun the multi-billion pound renewal of the Trident system
PA Images

The Defence Secretary refused to spell out when a first strike might be necessary but lauded the Trident nuclear deterrent as essential to the safety of Britain.

His comments came after senior Labour figures were forced to clarify Jeremy Corbyn’s position on the multi-billion pound deterrent after he appeared to suggest he could cancel its renewal if elected.

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Asked for the Tory position on firing nuclear warheads this morning, Mr Fallon said leaving “uncertainty” in the mind of an enemy was key.

“In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They are better not specified or described which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.

“The whole point about the deterrent is you’ve got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”

Top military figures including field marshal Lord Bramall, general Lord Ramsbotham, and ex-deputy commanding chief of UK land forces Sir Hugh Beach have said Trident is not a deterrent against foreign aggression.

But Mr Fallon insisted: “You cannot be absolutely sure that nobody might threaten to use a weapon against us.”

Mr Corbyn said yesterday that Labour was “still having that discussion” about whether or not to commit to Trident in its manifesto - despite it being agreed Labour policy.

After his comments caused uproar, shadow ministers Andy McDonald and Andrew Gwynne insisted the Labour manifesto would include a pledge to renew the deterrent.

Mr Fallon branded the Labour leader’s comments “staggeringly irresponsible” and said he would “put the security of our country at risk immediately as he was elected”.