Deputy prime minister says there are more appropriate ways to keep Britain safe without simply replacing nuclear deterrent
Nick Clegg has made his most passionate call yet for a rethink on Britain’s nuclear deterrent, saying it was not necessary to be in a position to flatten Moscow at the push of a button.
Speaking on his weekly phone-in radio show with LBC, the deputy prime minister said: “Trident was designed very explicitly for a completely different cold war world, where the main strategic threat was [an] unannounced, overwhelming and unpredicted nuclear strike from Moscow.
“I think the world has changed,” he said, citing the view of US president Barack Obama that the new threat was not Moscow but stateless terrorist groups getting hold of makeshift nuclear bombs.
Clegg was speaking after the Cabinet Office produced a report on alternatives to the continuous at-sea submarine deterrent to replace the existing Trident programme.
He said: “There are ways in which we keep this country safe, but in a way that is more appropriate to the threats we face in the modern world.”
Clegg said military chiefs were divided on the issue, but many agreed that it was wrong simply to stick to a like-for-like replacement as if the world had not changed.
He argued: “We do not have a standing army standing on the white cliffs of Dover in case someone is going to invade this country across the channel.
“It is possible I suppose in 50 years time hordes of people are going to come across in ships to invade us. I suppose we should keep hold of old dreadnought ships in case the Germans come out of the mists of Jutland. The world has moved on.”