Trident replacement costs double; vote before Christmas?

IssueDecember 2015 - January 2016
News by PN staff

It will cost £167bn to replace and maintain Britain’s nuclear arsenal, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt calculated in October, using official figures, just as the Conservative government was hinting that a vote on Trident replacement could come before Christmas.

In a written parliamentary response to Blunt, the minister of state for defence procurement, Philip Dunne, said on 23 October that the acquisition of four new nuclear missile submarines would cost £25bn.

The in-service costs, Dunne said, would be about six percent of the annual military budget over their lifetime. The military budget is £34.1bn for 2015-2016.

With an in-service date of 2028 for a Trident replacement system, and a missile extension until 2060, ‘the total cost is £167bn,’ Blunt told the Reuters news agency.

The MP for Reigate said: ‘The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defence budget of its predecessor... The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible.’

Vote early

The parliamentary ‘main gate’ vote on replacing Trident could be moved forward six months to December (or possibly January), in order to reduce the heat around the issue ahead of the Scottish parliament elections in May, newspapers were told in October and November.

‘We want to get this decision soon to stop the SNP turning the Scottish elections [in May] into a referendum on Trident,’ one government source told the Daily Telegraph.

The Scottish National Party opposes Trident replacement, and the Scottish parliament voted overwhelmingly against Trident renewal on 2 November, with Scottish Labour joining the Greens and the SNP.

Topics: Nuclear weapons