If last month’s European Union referendum was the most divisive issue in British politics recently, then Monday’s House of Commons debate on the Trident missile system must be a close second.
MPs on both sides advanced passionate arguments about whether building four replacement nuclear submarines at an estimated cost of £31bn is morally, militarily and financially justifiable. The lively debate showed our Parliamentary democracy at its best.
After much thought, I joined 471 of my Parliamentary colleagues to vote in favour of replacing Trident. I believe the decision is best for the country and best for the people of Rochdale.
While many have been fixated on the high cost of the new system, we must not overlook the positives for our economy. The renewal programme will secure and create thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs across the UK. These benefits will be felt not just in the areas most associated with Trident but across the entire supply chain and in the wider economy.
But this issue is much more than a simple argument about the national budget.
In an increasingly uncertain climate it would be both reckless and irresponsible of us to give up our independent defence system. For decades, the UK’s nuclear deterrent has given us influence on the world stage and helped keep the peace.
Nuclear weapons are a regrettable necessity of our modern world and it would be naïve to think that other countries would follow suit if we opted to scrap our own deterrent. As elected representatives, MPs should never stop striving for total global nuclear disarmament, but we must also be realistic. This is a long term goal and we must retain the capability to protect ourselves in the meantime.
After the decision to leave the EU, this week’s Trident vote was a clear indication that the UK is determined to maintain its position on the world stage. Being an influential and powerful country means standing up against would-be aggressors and protecting British people from those who would seek to do us harm.