North East MPs back nuclear weapon renewal plan '“ but do you agree?

Labour MPs in the North East have thrown their support behind plans to renew Britain's multi-billion pound nuclear arsenal - and handed crisis-hit party leader Jeremy Corbyn another bitter blow.

Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 7:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 10:54 am
MPs overwhelmingly voted to renew Britain's Trident nuclear weapon system.

Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system was given firm cross-party support in a crunch House of Commons vote by MPs - with 140 Labour MPs among the overwhelming majority to back it.

The decisive result was returned in support of a Government motion which also included supporting the plan to replace the existing submarine fleet carrying the missiles with four new Successor submarines.

The decision to renew Trident won cross-party support.

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Wearside MPs Bridget Phillipson and Julie Elliott both backed the motion, with Washington MP Sharon Hodgson not taking part in the vote as she was attending her son's graduation.

She explained in a statement on her website that she would be unable to be present for the vote, but said she backed the renewal of Trident.

South Tyneside Labour duo Emma Lewell-Buck and Stephen Hepburn also voted to keep Britain's nuclear weapons system in place.

They were joined by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

The decision to renew Trident won cross-party support.

The final result was 471 in favour with 116, leading to a majority of 355.

Renewal of the continuous-at-sea deterrent is predicted to cost £31 billion, with a £10 billion contingency fund also set aside.

Labour MPs were subject to a free vote, with leader Mr Corbyn declaring he would oppose the motion - a stance which led to strong criticism from some of his backbenchers.

Just three members of Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet voted in favour of renewing Trident.

They were deputy leader Tom Watson, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham and chief whip Rosie Winterton.

Meanwhile, 11 members of the shadow cabinet voted against renewing Trident.

They were: Mr Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow culture secretary Kelvin Hopkins, shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell, shadow business secretary Jon Trickett, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, shadow health secretary Diane Abbott, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, shadow Treasury minister Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn and shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor.

Nine members of the shadow cabinet either chose to abstain or did not attend the vote, with Easington MP Grahame Morris among this number.

The vote came after a debate lasting almost six hours in which Theresa May, in her first despatch box appearance as Prime Minister, warned it would be a "reckless gamble" for the UK to rely on other nations for its nuclear deterrent.

She insisted it would be an "act of gross irresponsibility" should the Government discard the Trident weapons system, as she led calls to replace the submarine fleet which carries the missiles.

Mrs May also launched an attack on Mr Corbyn by claiming some Opposition frontbenchers appeared to be the first to "defend the country's enemies" and the last to accept what the UK needs to protect itself.

In his remarks, Mr Corbyn questioned if the "weapons of mass destruction" act as a credible deterrent to the threats faced by the UK.

He also warned the costs of renewal were "ballooning ever upwards" and noted that each warhead has the capacity to kill one million people.

Mr Corbyn added he would not take a decision that "kills millions of innocent people" - a nod to his stance that he would not authorise the use of nuclear weapons.