The first responsibility of any government is to defend the national security of this country. I believe that Trident plays an important role in that. That is why I have always voted in favour of renewal of our nuclear deterrent, but I am mindful of the concerns that have been raised.
Whilst I do not relish the prospect of spending a significant amount of public money on renewing Trident, we must be careful not to overstate the cost. The cost of Trident is projected to be around £2.3 billion a year over the lifetime of project, equivalent to around five percent of our defence budget. Renewing Trident is expensive, but I do not believe it to be prohibitively expensive.
Additionally, there are thousands of British jobs which depend on the construction and maintenance of our nuclear submarines. I believe that we should be mindful of the devastating impact the loss of those jobs would have on communities like Barrow.
However, I am concerned about the recent reports of a malfunction in the testing of a Trident missile. It is very important that the Government answers the concerns that have been raised following these revelations and provide reassurance that our nuclear deterrent is fit for purpose.
At the same time as renewing Trident, we should recommit ourselves to the pursuit of multilateral disarmament. It is very important that, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, we bring countries together in the goal of reducing nuclear stockpiles and preventing nuclear proliferation.