In recent weeks, the impact of the result of the EU referendum has dominated the media. However, the business of Government continues. The first priority of any government is national security, and this Government will continue to ensure that the UK and its vital interests are protected.
To this end, the Prime Minister announced, at the NATO Summit at the weekend, that Parliament will get a chance to debate and vote upon the renewal of our independent nuclear deterrent.
We live in an increasingly dangerous world, and the UK is facing a growing number of diverse and complex threats. A strong and capable nuclear defence system is vital to guaranteeing our security, providing us with the necessary insurance in an ever more uncertain world.
The continuous at sea deterrent (CASD) has provided the United Kingdom’s ultimate security insurance policy every day for the last 46 years.
For those that question the need for a nuclear deterrent in the 21st century, I would point out that North Korea is continuing to carry out nuclear and ballistic missile tests, with ranges capable of striking our allies in the region. Russia also continues to increase its nuclear investment – demonstrating how real these risks are in today’s world.
The best way to protect ourselves from these threats is to have our own, independent nuclear capability. The nuclear deterrent is designed to deter potential adversaries from launching a nuclear attack on us or our allies. It is simple logic that if an adversary has more to lose than gain by attacking us, they will be deterred from doing so. A nuclear deterrent is the most effective way to deal with the most extreme threats, guaranteeing our national security and way of life.
We remain committed to multilateral disarmament, aiming for a world without nuclear weapons in the long term, having halved our nuclear forces from their Cold War peak. However, it would be irresponsible to disarm unilaterally while the capability to threaten us with nuclear weapons remains – we possess only around 1% of the total global stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Much is said about the cost of the deterrent. It is worth noting that it works out as 20 pence in every £100 of Government spend over 35 years – around 6% of the Defence Budget. This represents a very worthwhile investment for a system that will provide a capability through to the 2050s, ensuring our national security and protecting the British public.
Update: in July, I asked the Prime Minister a question on our independent nuclear capability: