Newly elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, says he would never allow British armed forces to use nuclear weapons if he became prime minister in 2020.
Speaking to BBC Radio, Corbyn reiterated his opposition to an overhaul in the Trident nuclear weapons. “I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons. I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible,” he said.
Corbyn has, for long, called for Britain's nuclear programs to be scrapped. His latest remarks, however, come amid growing differences in party ranks over the issue as well as intensifying debate about whether parliament should vote next year to replace Trident.
“I don’t think we should be spending £100bn on renewing Trident. That is a quarter of our defence budget. There are many in the military that do not want Trident renewed because they see it as an obsolete thing, the thing they don’t need”.
The Labour chief also questioned the need of nuclear weapons saying the world today doesn’t need the five declared nuclear weapon states and three others to protect it. He argued that there’s no cold war anymore and therefore one hundred and eighty seven non-nuclear states do not feel the need to have nuclear weapons to protect their security.
Britain has been a nuclear power since the 1950s, and respective governments both under Labour and Conservative have consistently supported the country’s "weapons of mass destruction" program. The issues of Trident and the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent are hotly contested between political parties for some time now. Before Corbyn’s victory, there was almost consensus on the renewal of Royal Navy submarines armed with Trident missiles.
However Corbyn is likely to face a party revolt on his anti-nuclear stance. Recently, over a dozen members of his shadow cabinet were said to be ready to quit if the party leader forces them to back him on the nuclear issue. “As far as Trident is concerned, it is really important to me. It would give rise to me having considerable difficulties [remaining in the shadow cabinet] if we didn't accept it,” Lord Falconer, the shadow justice secretary was quoted as saying.
During the interview on Tuesday, Corbyn said he is well aware of differences of opinions but said he is sure a large number of party members and supporters would back him "knowing full views on nuclear weapons".