EXCL Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith: I would use Britain's nuclear deterrent

Posted On: 
17th March 2017

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith has said she would be prepared to authorise the use of Britain's nuclear weapons - putting her at odds with Jeremy Corbyn.

Nia Griffith is at odds with Jeremy Corbyn over nuclear weapons.
PA Images

She also revealed that no one in the Labour leader's office checked her views on Trident before giving her the job last year.

Ms Griffith was handed the senior role in Mr Corbyn's reshuffle following his re-election as Labour boss in September.

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She replaced Clive Lewis, who had fallen out with the leader and his closest aides over Trident policy at the Labour party conference.

Speaking after he first became Labour leader in 2015, Mr Corbyn told the BBC he would not use the UK's nuclear weapons if he became Prime Minister.

Mr Corbyn said there were only five “declared nuclear weapon states” in the world out of a total of 192.

Asked directly if he would personally approve Trident's use if he was in Downing Street, Mr Corbyn said: “No. 187 countries don’t feel the need to have a nuclear weapon to protect their security, why should those five need it themselves? We are not in the era of the Cold War any more, it finished a long time ago.”

But in an interview with The House magazine, Ms Griffith said: “It’s absolutely vital that if you have a deterrent, you are prepared to use it – otherwise it’s not a deterrent.

“Of course, nobody wants to reach that situation, and it’s very important that we have a strong defence policy, that we should act quickly, in a determined manner if we are attacked, or if we think there is potential for attack, so that we can nip things in the bud. But at the end of the day, ultimately it’s important to have an ultimate deterrent.”

She added: “Clearly Jeremy has his views on this but we are a democratic party and we have a clear position.”

Asked if anyone from Mr Corbyn's team sought her views on Trident before giving her the job, Ms Griffith said: “No…. no. We have a firm party policy and I don’t see us changing the policy on Trident in the foreseeable future.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Griffith also Britain should be willing to take military action if a fellow Nato member is attacked – something Mr Corbyn has been reluctant to do.

“We stand by the Nato treaty which says that, of course, an attack against one is an attack against all,” she said. “And so, absolutely, in Nato we use every means possible, using peaceful means first obviously, but if necessary one would escalate it to military means.

“It’s more important than ever that we reaffirm our full support for Nato, and that we send a clear message to Russia that we’re not going to put up with any nonsense.”