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MPs vote to renew Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent: How Northern Ireland members voted

By David Hughes

Published 19/07/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

MPs voted by 472 to 117 - a majority of 355 - to renew Trident, the UK's continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.

The motion supports the Government's plans to replace four ageing Vanguard class submarines that carry the Trident missiles with four Successor vessels.

Of the 18 Northern Ireland MPs, 10 voted.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds, Ian Paisley, Gavin Robinson, Jim Shannon and David Simpson voted in favour. As too did the UUP's two MPs Tom Elliott and Danny Kinahan.

The SDLP's Mark Durkan, Alastair McDonnell and Margaret Ritchie all voted against.

During yesterday's debate the Prime Minister told MPs she would be prepared to authorise a nuclear strike as she warned that Jeremy Corbyn's opposition to maintaining the UK's deterrent is "quite wrong".

Theresa May, making her first Commons speech since entering Number 10, said the "very real" threat posed by Russia and North Korea meant the UK could not afford to "relax our guard".

But Mr Corbyn repeated his position that he would not be prepared to press the nuclear button if he was in Number 10, arguing that threatening "mass murder" was not the way to handle international relations.

Labour was deeply split on the issue. Party sources said they believe 138 Labour MPs voted for the motion, 48 against, with 45 not present.

In the vote, 58 of Scotland's 59 MPs voted against Trident renewal, with Scotland's only Tory MP being the sole supporter.

In a swipe at the Labour leader, Mrs May said: "Some people suggest to us that we should actually be removing our nuclear deterrent. This has been a vital part of our national security and defence for nearly half-a-century now and it would be quite wrong for us to go down that path."

Challenged in the Commons on whether she would be prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill thousands of "innocent men, women and children", Mrs May firmly replied: "Yes."

Setting out the case for remaining a nuclear power, the Prime Minister said: "We must continually convince any potential aggressors that the benefits of an attack on Britain are far outweighed by their consequences.

"And we cannot afford to relax our guard or rule out further shifts which would put our country in grave danger. We need to be prepared to deter threats to our lives and our livelihoods and to those of generations who are yet to be born."

Mr Corbyn reiterated his opposition to the potential use of the weapons - one of the key elements of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. He said: "I make it clear today that I would not take a decision that kills millions of innocent people. I do not believe the threat of mass murder is a legitimate way to go about dealing with international relations."

The DUP backed the motion. Ian Paisley told the Commons: "Could I congratulate the Prime Minister for her sure-footedness today on bringing this motion before the House and at last allowing Parliament, in this session, to make a decision.

Theresa May has signalled her support for the UK's nuclear deterrent
Theresa May has signalled her support for the UK's nuclear deterrent

"We will proudly stand behind the Government on this issue."

The Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan added: "I strongly believe that our nuclear deterrent has and will continue to prevent many conflicts that would place our service personnel in mortal danger. Those who oppose our nuclear capabilities often argue against their cost as if they were a luxury that we could do without.

"They are not a luxury, they safeguard our nation and ensure that we play our part as a leading global peacekeeper."

However, the SDLP voted against. Margaret Ritchie MP said: "I fear renewing Trident will make the world less secure by increasing tensions and by increasing the risk of potentially catastrophic mechanical and human error."

Belfast Telegraph

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