Nick Clegg has broken ranks with the political establishment on Trident, telling Nick Robinson “We have to be realistic and candid about what we can and can’t afford as a nation”.
During the Cold War the logic of Trident and other nuclear missile systems was compelling, now the threat is from terrorists and rogue states the case for Trident is nowhere near as strong. The Russian nuclear arsenal is much reduced from the Soviet era, so any future threat response imaginable need not be made to meet an over-whelming massive multiple warhead nuclear attack from a hostile superpower.
Yet the Tory and Labour party establishments remain committed to the U.S. supplied Trident system. The £100 billion price tag for a system that isn’t really independent is too much in these circumstances. Britain needs a much reduced smaller bespoke system along the lines of the French force de frappe. Something more akin to smart missiles which can be launched from air, land or sea.
Nick Clegg has asked Ming to review the LibDem approach to strategic defence. The military top brass will always demand expensive new toys, just as trade union leaders always demand pay rises. The Tories are also reviewing defence matters. £100 billion is a lot of money to pay for the wrong insurance policy.