Lib Dems say it’s ‘not the right time’ to accelerate nuclear disarmament

Members rejected an amendment which called to accelerate efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons

During a motions debate today at the Lib Dem conference, members voted to continue to commit the party to NATO and maintaining a ‘minimum, credible nuclear deterrent’, saying that it’s ‘not the right time to be taking steps down the nuclear ladder.

Members rejected an amendment which sought to accelerate efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and to immediately reject Trident. Instead, members voted by a large number to commit the party to a more mulitlateral approach to nuclear disarmament.

Speakers argued that the nuclear deterrent motion be passed in its current state, without amendments, in order to acknowledge ‘short-term realism’ and the current situation regarding the war in Ukraine and threat from Putin.

They argued that the motion maintains a vision to return to a path of nuclear disarmament, however equally acknowledging that the current situation has changed, and a need for the UK to maintain international allies against a nuclear threat.

The policy laid out the notion that the UK is a ‘safer and more prosperous’ when working with multilateral institutions including NATO.

The motion also went further by calling on the government to maintain the Continuous At-Sea Deterrent stance, which means a Trident submarine continuously patrols the sea at all times.

Josh Babarinde, a Lib Dem representative, arguing in favour of the motion, said during the debate: “The international situation right now is more fragile than ever.

“Everyone’s vision for a future is for nuclear disarmament. But it’s not about whether to advance our disarmament but about when and how. Disarmament in good faith is a rational response if others can be our collaborators.

“But against all of my instincts I’m gutted to say that I do not have trust in the likes of Russia’s good faith right now. The trust is broken, so for that reason I think diluting (the motion) would send the wrong message and come at significant risk.

“We must act with restraint. I think this motion strikes that balance.”

Members pushing for the amendment hoped that the party would be bolder in taking a stronger stand against nuclear weapons and therefore lead by international example.

However there were fears that this stance would not sit well with voting members and could weaken the UK’s position to international threats.

This highlighted a continued debate within the party regarding a multilateral versus unilateral approach to nuclear disarmament.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

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