Jeremy Corbyn Hints At Giving Labour MPs Free Vote On Trident, But Conference Debate Dropped


Labour members will no longer be given a debate on whether to renew Britain's nuclear weapons, amid splits in the shadow cabinet over the issue.

On Sunday morning Jeremy Corbyn hinted he would allow Labour MPs to vote in favour of renewing Trident, even though he is opposed.

Party members were expected to be given a chance to formally oppose the nuclear deterrent. However this has now been dropped.

In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Corbyn said: "I understand colleagues' views, I hope to persuade them that a nuclear free world is a good thing. We are going to come to an accommodation of some sort. There may end up being a difference of opinion. Is it so disastrous that politics has two opinions?"

Asked if it was possible that the shadow cabinet could be allowed to vote a different way than he does, Corbyn added: "I will do my persuasive best to bring them around to my point of view, watch this space."

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson also later was more explicit. He told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live: "You saw the interview that Jeremy gave earlier, I think it is likely to be a free vote but the shadow cabinet hasn’t taken that decision yet. It seems to be the way the debate is unfolding, doesn’t it?”

Just 22% of Labour supporters, and only 18% of all voters, back Corbyn's position on scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system, polling for The Huffington Post UK carried out by Survation revealed yesterday.

The Labour leader also faces a split in his party and shadow cabinet over whether Britain should expand its bombing campaign against Isis from Iraq into Syra - something Corbyn opposed. He said Benn would be setting out Labour's position in a speech tomorrow.

"Our priority has to be a political settlement. Iran can be part of the political solution. The danger is that we end with a proxy war between Russia and others in Syria on top of an unpleasant civil war, and the people are the losers," he said.

In the interview, Corbyn was also challenged over whether John McDonnell, the new shadow chancellor, really did support "insurrection" against elected governments. "Is John in favour of insurrection?" Corbyn said. "No, he’s not. It was a colourful use of words."

On income tax policy, Corbyn said he hoped to to lower it "for the very poorest" as well as set the top rate at 50p. The top rate of tax is currently 45p.

Corbyn, a republican, was attacked for not singing the national anthem shortly after being elected leader. But he told Marr while he was not in favour of "hereditary systems" like the monarchy, he recognised "the majority of people" are, which was "fine"