Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 8 October 2015


The election of a leader of HM Opposition who is against Trident has put the whole issue of our independent nuclear deterrent back on the agenda. Within the next 18 months the government must decide whether to renew Trident with the next generation of nuclear weapons. So it is once again a live issue and there will be a vote on this at Westminster in this Parliament.

There are credible arguments against having a nuclear deterrent which I respect, but do not share. It is expensive. It consumes roughly 6% of the defence budget, about £2.5 billion pa. The cost of the upgrade would be considerable. It is a horrible weapon of mass destruction which would kill millions if unleashed. It is hard to envisage a set of circumstances in which a British Prime Minister would press the red button. Some argue we should scrap it and focus more on promoting multilateral disarmament.

The problem is that nuclear weapons cannot be un-invented. We are edging into a world which is more unstable than at any time since the Berlin wall came down. The Middle East is in near melt-down, made more dangerous with Iran on the brink of acquiring nuclear power. Israel already has that capacity, India and Pakistan, also. Russia is obviously flexing its muscles once more including territorial ambitions in Europe. China has recently decided to invest heavily in defence spending over the next few years. The heavyweight boxing match between the USA and China still lies ahead of us.

It is difficult in that environment to make the case for the UK to voluntarily give up our fire-power.

The whole point of a nuclear deterrent is that its very existence deters your enemy from launching missiles against you for fear of a devastating counter-strike. Its presence helps keep the country and the people living in it safe. An insurance policy, expensive, but in this troubled world, sadly necessary. France and the USA are the only other NATO countries with nuclear capability. Some argue we should leave our protection to them, but it does not seem right that the UK, the sixth largest economy in the world, should subcontract out our defence in that way.

We do not have to envisage a scenario in which a British PM would push the button. It is only necessary that our enemy should believe that he or she might. Deterrent.

I will be voting to renew Trident in 2016.

posted by Gary @ 09:25