The government says £750m ($1.2bn) will be saved over four years on the Trident nuclear deterrent missile system by cutting the number of warheads on each boat from 48 to 40 and reducing the number of missile tubes from 12 to eight. The UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile will be cut from 160 to less than 120. The final “main gate” spending decision on Trident will also be delayed until 2016 – after the next general election.
Liberal Democrat Party President Ros Scott has emailed party members, saying:
Trident will not be renewed this parliament – not on a Liberal Democrat watch. Let us be clear, this is a significant victory for Liberal Democrat campaigners, and a fantastic example of what our Ministers can and do achieve in government.
But the Coalition Government is not just saying no to replacing Trident this parliament. It is going further. It is also taking important steps towards the goal of multilateral nuclear disarmament. The announcement today sees a 25% cut in warheads.
Today is yet another day that we can all feel hugely proud to be a party of government, delivering key Liberal Democrat priorities.
Ming Campbell commented on the decision, pointing out that,
Extending the life of the existing Trident fleet will not only save money in the short term; it will allow the opportunity to keep nuclear policy under review, to explore the possibilities of co-operation with the French, and even to consider other alternatives to like for like replacement of Trident.
The coalition within the coalition which won this decision contains a varied group of people – Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, unilateralists and multilateralists. But it has successfully overcome the strong lobby in the Conservative Party to continue Labour’s policy of rushing ahead with a like-for-like replacement of Trident.
From what I’ve heard, it’s been the Liberal Democrat presence in the government debate that has been key to seeing that lobby lose out in the argument.