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MPs' vote on Trident 'may be held before Christmas'

Published 11/10/2015

A vote on Trident could take place before December 17, a source said
A vote on Trident could take place before December 17, a source said

Ministers are considering holding the crunch vote on renewing Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent before Christmas.

The decision could be brought forward to highlight Labour divisions and prevent the issue dominating Scottish elections next May, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The "main gate" vote on proceeding with a like-for-like renewal had been expected in the middle of 2016, allowing time for new submarines to be built before the existing fleet is taken out of service in the late 2020s.

But a senior Government source told the newspaper: "We want to get this decision soon to stop the SNP turning the Scottish elections into a referendum on Trident."

Another said: "We are not going to lose a vote on Trident. But the Scottish elections in May are a complicating factor. We need to stop (SNP leader Nicola) Sturgeon spending the whole campaign talking about Trident."

Before the vote can take place the Government must complete the Strategic Defence and Security Review, examining the threats facing the country for the years ahead.

That is expected soon after the Chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement on November 25. A vote on Trident could then take place before December 17, when the Commons rises for Christmas.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes renewing the deterrent, but admits that many of his frontbench colleagues support it.

Angela Eagle, the shadow first secretary of state and shadow business secretary, signalled Mr Corbyn should respect the outcome of a review of the party's policy on Trident even if he disagreed.

Appearing on Pienaar's Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Eagle said: "I certainly hope that any leader of the Labour Party would respect what the Labour Party's policy is. That's always been the deal in the Labour Party."

Questioned if Mr Corbyn would have to "unsay what he's said" or resign, Ms Eagle replied: "Well, that would be up to him at the time.

"I think we're anticipating what might happen in the debate. I think we should see what we can do to come to some agreement, particularly on multilateral nuclear disarmament to see how we go.

"A week after all is a long time in politics."

Asked again if Mr Corbyn would have to go along with the review or resign should it back multilateral nuclear disarmament, Ms Eagle said: "I think that's speculation, you'd have to ask him what he'd think in that opinion when you next interview him."

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