Lost in coalition: Trident review’s missing conclusions

The Liberal Democrat-initiated review into renewing Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent does not reach any conclusions, Danny Alexander has admitted.

The review was completed two weeks ago with copies handed to both prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the chief secretary to the Treasury – who has been handling the review since last autumn's reshuffle – said this morning.

Politics.co.uk understands the review is being treated as a government document, even though it was originally envisioned in the coalition agreement as a Lib Dem-only project being carried out by the civil service.

That had led to potential ambiguity about its significance and authority as a coalition document, as the Conservatives and Lib Dems hold completely different positions on Trident.

The Tories are determined to see the renewal take place in full, while the Lib Dems want other options considered.

Those alternatives will be presented by the review but without committing the Tories to accepting the Lib Dem view, Alexander effectively confirmed this morning.

"People will see there are choices available in this country, there are alternatives," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

Alexander quoted Barack Obama's hope that the world can move beyond a Cold War outlook and said the review would allow the Lib Dems to "set out a future where Britain can maintain a credible nuclear deterrent and support disarmament in the future".

The final 'main gate' decision on whether to go ahead with the Trident renewal will be taken in 2016, after the coalition agreed to avoid a divisive standoff over the issue in the current parliament.

'Squeezing more out'

Alexander's Trident comments came at the end of an interview in which the chief secretary to the Treasury suggested the Treasury's capital spending drive had come at the direct expense of spending cuts to government departments.

"We have been able to squeeze more money out of departmental spending budgets to release more money," he said.

Later in the interview he added: "We're squeezing more out of current spending to invest more in roads, housing and energy.

"I think those are the right choices for our country."

Alexander also accused Labour of being the only party "pretending there's a magic money tree which money comes off".