Why we must maintain nuclear independence

Few anticipated, prior to September 11th 2001, the consequences of global Islamic terrorism.
Few anticipated, prior to September 11th 2001, the consequences of global Islamic terrorism.

HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

We buy insurance for our homes, cars and holidays, hoping we never need to use it. Similarly, smoke alarms are purchased in the hope that they will never go off. We wouldn’t be permitted to enjoy driving a car; wouldn’t be wise to visit new places; and wouldn’t sleep soundly at night without the knowledge that a plan is place in case things go wrong.

Britain’s nuclear submarine programme is rather like an insurance policy. We invest in Trident hoping never to need to use its awesome power. Having our own independent nuclear deterrent has been at the core of our national security for over 60 years; its maintenance remains our ultimate protection against nuclear blackmail from foreign enemies. It’s not using such lethal weapons, but having them that matters most.

There is a lazy assumption that the nuclear threat to us died with the demise of Soviet communism and, as a result, we have no further use for ballistic missiles. This dangerous naivety underestimates the uncertain nature of ever-changing risks to national security. After all, few anticipated, prior to September 11th 2001, the consequences of global Islamic terrorism; and fewer still predicted the speed with which the so-called Islamic State seized territory in the Middle East. The menace of Islamist terror, alongside growing Russian assertiveness and nuclear tests in erratic North Korea, means that it would be reckless to prepare for anything less than the worst 
case.

Shortly, there will be a vote in Parliament about renewing the Trident programme, providing an outing for those who wish to scrap our nuclear defence. Some of them argue that that it is too costly, whilst others persist with the nonsense of unilateral disarmament – the folly that if we gave up our missiles, other nuclear powers would quickly do so too. Such misunderstanding of the threats we face makes sense only to those blinded by moral relativism.

Unilaterally dismantling our nuclear capabilities, rather than make the world a safer place, would trigger greater instability as by letting down our allies we’d give succour to our adversaries. If Britain no longer had an independent deterrent, in practice, we would become reliant on our friends overseas (principally, the Americans), so effectively ceding to them our strategic foreign policy.

Britain must maintain its nuclear independence to keep us safe now and in the future. The credible threat of using such weapons is a card we must continue to hold because our enemies will certainly continue to do so. It is our duty to guarantee Britain’s long term security and to defend our way of life - to gamble with the safety of generations to come is neither clever nor right.