Jess Tinton looks at the Labour Party’s attitude towards nuclear weapons.

The Labour Party and nuclear weapons.


The Labour Party are against the notion of abolishing nuclear weapons and believe that keeping the current Trident programme is a sensible economic, social, and political decision for the UK.

However, as the elected leader on a platform opposing Trident renewal, Corbyn has stated that he was not only against the use of nuclear weapons, but even the holding of nuclear weapons. He strives to promote an international convention leading to a nuclear-free world, and given the previous opportunity to reach number 10, he claimed he was adamant that he wouldn’t press the nuclear button in a situation of threat.

Corbyn has faith in resolution of conflict by negotiations and communications as opposed to vast destruction of the environment and humankind itself. In an interview with the BBC, he said “I do not believe the threat of mass murder is a legitimate way to deal with international relations”. Corbyn is a firm believer in spending the £200 billion we currently use for the Trident programme and other nuclear weapon systems, as well as the £31 billion it’ll take to renew the scheme, for much larger global problems, such as climate change or pandemics like COVID-19, improving the world as a whole instead of creating more international tension.

There are 195 countries in the world yet just 9 have nuclear weaponry. Why should us 9 have that advantage over the rest of the world? And isn’t that creating a bigger economic divide between the rich and the poor? Isn’t that the mistake we made that led to wars in the past which is exactly what the deterrent idea is trying to avoid? The UK economy is experiencing the largest fall in over 300 years and government borrowing is at its highest outside of wartime. Why are we clinging to a nuclear weapons system that is costing us far more than we can actually afford?

However, keeping England’s nuclear weapons has always been a divisive issue within the Labour party. Despite Jeremy Corbyn being strongly against weapons of mass destruction, the majority of the Labour party are positive that it provides general national security and an insurance policy against hostile attack. Approximately 140 Labour MPs support Trident whilst Corbyn and a mere 45 other MPs voted against it. The shadow defence secretary has said that the debate is non-negotiable and that reducing tensions around the world is practically impossible, therefore we need to make sure we are constantly prepared for attack from countries which can be wildly unpredictable.

Nuclear weaponry has been the backbone of our national defence for many years and the only way to protect our population in extreme circumstances of self-defence is to have the opportunity to fight back and preserve our country. The current Trident scheme has up to 180 nuclear weapons on board 4 different submarines circling the UK 365 days a year in case of volatile attack. Labour is still for the weaponry only being used as deterrents however they will not hesitate to increase the nuclear power if feeling vulnerable in the future.

With two opposing views in the same party, we have concluded that the solution would be to keep the current Trident submarine fleet but without carrying nuclear warheads. Whilst Corbyn is strongly against the idea of nuclear power in general, many Labour MPs threatened to resign if we reverse the decades-long support for nuclear deterrents, so he had to compromise before he ended up stepping down as Labour leader in 2020. If we reduce the number of warheads, it’ll become easier for nuclear disarmament to happen gradually in the future, helping to create the international peace we all crave.