Jeremy Corbyn says Labour ‘committed’ to Trident after Shadow Cabinet dispute

Posted On: 
20th May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has stepped in to confirm Labour would renew the Trident missile system after yet another row within the Shadow Cabinet over the nuclear deterrent. 

Jeremy Corbyn speaking after a campaign rally in Birmingham
Credit: 
BBC

The Labour leader insisted the party was “committed to Trident” after Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said a wide-ranging defence review after the election could decide to scrap the UK’s nuclear weapons.

Ms Thornberry’s comments were publicly disowned by Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith, who said Labour’s Trident policy was “settled”.

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Theresa May has used the public disagreement to claim Labour “could not be trusted” with the defence of the UK. 

Mr Corbyn, a lifelong advocate of unilateral disarmament, himself last week left the door open for the review to change Labour’s stance on nuclear weapons, saying: “We cannot, obviously, decide what a review would decide.”

But speaking to reporters after the split between Ms Thornberry and Ms Griffith, the Labour leader said Trident was not up for debate.

“The manifesto makes it very clear that the Labour party has come to a decision and is committed to Trident,” he said.

“We're also going to look at the real security needs of this country on other areas such as cyber security, which I think the attack on our NHS last week proved there needs to be some serious re-examination of our defences against those kind of attacks.”

When asked whether all four nuclear submarines would be renewed, he replied: “I've just made it clear and included in our manifesto is an absolute commitment which is given by party and which is given by me that we will also pursue multilateral disarmament through the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and that is a position that has been held for a long time by the party.”

Speaking to LBC yesterday, Ms Thornberry had been asked whether Labour would definitely keep Trident if it won the general election.

She responded: “No, of course not, if you’re going to have a review, you have to have a review.”

Ms Griffith slapped down her Shadow Cabinet colleague later that evening on BBC Newsnight.

She said: “With all due respect, Emily is not the Shadow Defence Secretary. I am.”

Last year’s Labour conference saw Mr Corbyn and other unilateralists cede to those within the party in favour of the UK keeping nuclear weapons. 

At a campaign event in west London this afternoon, Mrs May told supporters Ms Thornberry’s comments showed the Trident question was not settled within Labour.

“We have seen yet again from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party today that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would not be unequivocally committed to the Trident nuclear deterrent; they would not be able to defend this country,” the Prime Minister said.

“A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could not be trusted with the defence of our country.”