POLITICS

Labour And Trident: Is Ed Miliband Willing To Change Position On Nuclear Deterrent?

18/03/2013 17:38 GMT | Updated 18/03/2013 18:36 GMT

Labour are "open" to cheaper alternatives for the Trident nuclear deterrent but have stopped short of committing to ditch their long-standing commitment for a like-for-like replacement.

Earlier on Monday morning, the Financial Times reported senior Labour advisers and MPs had indicated the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was backing the shift in position.

Labour sources later clarified their position. Speaking to DefenceManagement, a spokesperson said: "The idea that Labour is moving away from Trident is false.

labour trident

Trident has been the UK's nuclear deterrent since 1994

"[Labour] will not compromise on having a credible nuclear deterrent."

Tonly Blair committed the Labour Party to a like-for-like replacement back in 2006, a stance which has remained since.

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Labour's position on the issue is especially pertinent as a final decision on the future of the deterrent is not due until 2016, a year after the next general election.

A Labour election victory would give them power of veto over any decisions made before then.

Labour is far from united on the issue.

Des Browne, former Labour defence secretary said the deterrent places should be reconsidered "given the range of challenges before us and the limited resources at our disposal".

Conversely, Labour Lord West said Trident is "too important to get wrong".

Trident currently operates with four Vanguard-class submarines. A like-for-like replacement will cost around £25bilion and is the stated preference of the Conservatives.

Other options could involve scaling back the size of Trident to three or even just two submarines.

Critics of Trident argue it is not relavent to the geo-political realties currently faced by the UK.

Recent public opinion polls found that 63% would scrap Trident in order to help pay off the deficit and only 22% support a like-for-like replacement.