The Labour Party will work with the Scottish nationalists to try to block the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent in a parliamentary vote due next year, Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Friday.
The Conservative government backs the multi-billion pound renewal of Britain’s ageing fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. It has a slim majority in parliament, so some of Prime Minister David Cameron’s own lawmakers, as well as other opposition parties, would have to join with Labour and the SNP to defeat the plans.
The Scottish National Party, which won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland in the national election in May, has long opposed renewing the weapons and had called on veteran anti-war campaigner Corbyn to support them.
“My position on Trident has been very clear all of my life. I am opposed to nuclear weapons,” Corbyn, who was elected as Labour’s leader earlier this month, told BBC Scotland.
“Trident should go. I do not believe that it is a form of defence. I do not believe it is something that anyone in their proper mind would ever want to use.”
Labour’s existing position is to back the renewal of Trident, although it has previously suggested reducing the number of submarines to three from four.
Corbyn’s position is at odds with many in his party, including his deputy, Tom Watson.
He said the party would debate the issue of Trident at its annual conference next week and reach a decision on its position, but he expected Labour to side with the SNP.
“We will be voting with them on this, or they will be voting with us, whichever way you want to put it,” Corbyn said.
Cameron’s Conservatives won an unexpected majority in May’s election, after a campaign in which they warned against the insecurity of a Labour government in hock to the SNP.
The SNP brought a debate over the renewal of Trident to parliament in January this year, with lawmakers voting 364 to 37 in favour of keeping the deterrent.