The future of the UK's nuclear deterrent is a matter of huge importance for our country, affecting our defence and security strategy for decades to come, as well as our global standing.
I support international efforts toward multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and I would like to see greater progress toward a world without nuclear weapons. Indeed, I am very proud of the huge progress made under the previous Labour Government in nuclear disarmament through international frameworks. This saw the number of operationally available warheads almost halved, and the number of deployed warheads on each submarine reduced.
These efforts also resulted in the UK becoming the only recognised nuclear-armed Non-Proliferation Treaty country to possess just one nuclear system, when the WE-177 freefall tactical nuclear weapons were withdrawn. This was important action towards multilateral nuclear disarmament and I hope the current Government will ensure that Britain continues to play a leading role in moves toward this ultimate goal.
I appreciate and respect that there are strongly held views on all sides of this crucial debate. There are a variety of different positions that can be taken on this issue: renewing the nuclear deterrent as it is, or abandoning it entirely and permanently, are not the only options available. I believe that it is about time for an honest and evidence-based appraisal of the direction that policy should take on this matter.