Brown attacked for not backing Obama
by Sandamali Zbyszewski
Just as America continued its bold course towards nuclear disarmament, the UK was criticised today for its regressive nuclear policy.
Despite previous promises to bring the number of nuclear submarines down from four to three, Quentin Davies, defence minister, was reported to have promised that four Trident-enabled submarines will be commissioned by Labour if re-elected.
The news could not have come at a worse time, with a summit on nuclear weapons taking place in Washington, which foreign secretary David Miliband is attending.
Terry Waiting, of the Keep our Future Afloat shipyard campaign, told the Telegraph that the minister had given a clear promise to order four boats.
He said: “My recollection of what was said by the minister was that they had examined the case for three submarines and they cannot guarantee continuous at-sea deterrent with three submarines.”
Davies announced the change of policy in Barrow on Furness, a vulnerable Labour seat which is heavily reliant on its ship-building industry.
The meeting was attended by shipyard campaigners, local union leaders and many of the workers who will be entrusted with the construction of the next generation of British submarines.
While the MoD confirmed Mr Davies’ comments, it denied that a final number of submarines has been established.
The Conservatives are also in favour of maintaining Trident as a nuclear deterrent.
The debate on Trident has enraged Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who attacked both parties for being trapped in a ‘Cold War mentality’.
“Gordon Brown should be standing shoulder to shoulder with President Obama and his campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons,” Mr Clegg said.
“Instead, we hear on the day of the summit that Brown has secretly rowed back on his modest commitment to reduce the number of Trident submarines.
“President Obama is absolutely right. The nuclear threats of the future are proliferation and terrorism, not a Cold War standoff.
“Yet Labour and the Tories won’t even consider Trident as part of the defence review. They are stuck in a Cold War time warp.”