MPs have voted in favour of replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons programme in another day of extraordinary events at Westminster which saw Jeremy Corbyn yet again clash with a majority of his own backbenchers.
A majority of Labour MPs - 138 of a total of 230 - voted with the government, in line with their own party policy but against the leader in backing the renewal of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. After giving his party a free vote on the issue, Corbyn ended up in a minority of just 48 Labour MPs who opposed Trident’s renewal, while another 45 chose to abstain.
During the debate a number of Labour MPs attacked Corbyn for voting against official party policy. The Labour leader, a lifelong advocate of unilateral disarmament called on the UK to “step up to the plate” and take the first step in abandoning nuclear weapons.
In total 472 MPs voted in favour of the £41bn programme to replace the four Trident submarines against 117 - including nearly every member of the SNP’s Westminster delegation - who opposed the deal.
In her first appearance in the Commons as prime minister, Theresa May said relinquishing the UK’s nuclear weapons “would be a reckless gamble … with the safety and security of families in Britian.”
She added: “Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an insurance policy we simply cannot do without. We cannot compromise on our national security.”
When asked point blank to say whether she would fire nuclear weapons if required, May said she would, adding: “The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know we would be prepared to use it.”
Both of Corbyn’s rivals in the upcoming Labour leadership contest, Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, backed the replacement of Trident, while deputy leader Tom Watson also spoke in favour of renewal.