The Liberal Democrats seek a nuclear-free Britain and a nuclear-free world. We believe that these aims, and all of Britain’s interests, are best advanced by actively and constructively working with the UK’s allies and partners in the European Union, Commonwealth, UK and NATO to develop effective global solutions.
Liberal Democrats have long argued that the UK, while maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent, should be fully engaged in international nuclear disarmament efforts. In particular, the UK should seek ways to persuade others countries to agree to step down the nuclear ladder. In maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent, we maintain leverage in non-proliferation discussions and keep our place at that table.
We also recognise that the world has changed profoundly since the UK became one of the five declared nuclear powers in the 1950s, yet Britain’s nuclear posture has not kept up. In 2015, the Liberal Democrats proposed to step down the nuclear ladder by procuring fewer Vanguard Successor submarines and moving from Continuous-at Sea Deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling a surge to armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate. This would help the UK fulfil its obligations in international law and reduce the UK nuclear warhead stockpile.
That is why our MP’s drafted the amendment below before Monday’s vote:
“Declines to give support to the Government for like-for-like replacement of the Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines; believes that the UK must be able to defend itself and its overseas territories but believes that the full replacement of four Successor submarines is not in line with the UK’s obligations as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; calls instead for the UK to step down the nuclear ladder through procurement of fewer submarines and a move from Continuous at Sea Deterrence to a contingency posture of regular patrols, enabling the deployment of armed patrols when the international security context makes this appropriate; further believes that the UK should take an international lead in nuclear disarmament by engaging in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament; and supports the Government’s commitment to continuing to work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.”
Unfortunately, this amendment was not selected to be voted on last night. The party did however, vote against the Government motion but this was defeated by a margin of 472 votes to 117.
However, the Liberal Democrats will continue to argue for reduced nuclear deterrent and for international nuclear disarmament leading to a nuclear-free world.