I don’t believe that there is a mutual exclusivity in investing in nuclear defences and public health funding. Instead, I support the Government’s continued action in both areas.
I believe it is absolutely vital that we maintain a continuous independent nuclear deterrent as the ultimate guarantee of our national security. Although no state currently has both the intent and the capability to threaten the independence and integrity of the UK, given the unpredictable security environment we face, maintaining our nuclear deterrent remains crucial for our protection and defence.
Despite successes over recent decades in limiting the number of states with nuclear capabilities, we cannot rule out a major shift in the international security situation which would put us under grave threat.
The Government’s policy, which was overwhelmingly supported by Parliament in 2016, is to maintain the Trident continuous at sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety. This is part of a wider programme to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the early 2030s, which will see the introduction of four Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarines to replace the current four Vanguard submarines – securing thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs in the UK.
As you note, ‘Public Health’ was listed as a ‘Tier One’ risk in the 2015 Defence and Security Review. This was, however, alongside a number of other threats including ‘Instability Overseas’ and ‘International Military Conflict’. It should also be noted that the same review suggested that “the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent will remain essential to our security today, and for as long as the global security situation demands”. I therefore welcome the fact that Parliament reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear deterrent when it overwhelmingly voted to maintain the Continuous at Sea Deterrence in 2016. This was part of a wide programme to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent beyond the early 2030s.