Lancaster MP Cat Smith has described the Parliamentary vote on the renewal of nuclear weapons systems as a “ludicrous exercise” held only to sow divisions within the Labour Party.
MPs backed the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system by 472 votes to 117 following a vote in the commons on Monday July 18.
Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris voted in favour of renewal, while Westmorland and Lonsdale MP and leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron voted against.
Mr Morris said Trident is “vital for our national security” as well as jobs in the nuclear and defence sector.
Mr Farron said Lib Dem policy is to retain a submarine based nuclear deterrent, but not to have a like-for-like replacement of the current system.
The MPs’ vote approves the manufacture of four replacement submarines at a current estimated cost of £31bn.
Ms Smith said she had abstained from the vote.
The vote came following a long debate, where new Prime Minister Theresa May was asked by SNP’s George Kerevan: “Are you prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?”
She replied with one word: “Yes”.
Ms Smith said: “Given the Government is playing politics with the timing of the vote, refusing to provide crucial information and has tabled such a vaguely worded motion I will be treating it with the contempt it deserves and will not participate in it.
“There was nothing new in this seven-hour debate – a vote in principle was already agreed in 2007 – and nothing whatsoever will happen as a result.
“It doesn’t authorise any new funding, or establish any new mechanisms for the delivery or oversight of the programme.
“We are in the bizarre situation where the government is asking parliament to approve the new submarine programme, but refusing to disclose the total costs of that programme.
“It is being held simply as an attempt to sow further divisions inside the Labour Party.
“In addition I have a number of very serious concerns about this motion.
“In particular it proposes an open-ended commitment to maintain Britain’s current nuclear capability “for as long as the global security situation demands”. “Such a vague, indefinite commitment precludes any possibility of Britain ever stepping down the nuclear ladder and contributing to global multilateral disarmament which is a policy of the Labour Party.
“The Labour Party is currently conducting a defence review and is exploring options.
“That work will continue regardless of the Government’s Parliamentary pantomime and meaningless vote on Monday.
“I will therefore be abstaining from this ludicrous exercise, and getting on with the real job of looking at how we best protect the people of the United Kingdom in 2016 instead.”
David Morris said: “I voted for the renewal of trident yesterday.
“Not only is trident vital for our national security it is vital for those constituents who work in the defence and nuclear sector across the North West and the supply chain that goes with it.
“In my view we cannot compromise on national security and it is impossible to say for certain that no extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life.
“It would be a gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats by discarding the ultimate insurance against those risks in the future.”
Mr Farron said: “The Lib Dems are proposing an alternative to the government’s policy of like-for-like replacement of Trident.
“Under our plans, Britain would not unilaterally disarm, so would still use submarines manufactured in Barrow.
“We would, however, take one of the most significant steps down the nuclear ladder our country has taken in the last half century – by removing ‘continuous at sea deterrence’ and therefore saving the cost of one submarine.
“Having submarines patrolling the high seas 24/7, 365 days a year does not help us to tackle the challenges that we face in the 21st century, especially in a time when our defence budget is so thinly stretched.”