May Wins Vote on Trident, Says She’d Launch U.K. Nuclear Weapons

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  • Premier says deterrent hinges on willingness to use warheads
  • Debate in Parliament focuses attention on Labour Party splits

Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament she’s ready to deploy nuclear weapons as she urged lawmakers to back a renewal of Britain’s submarine-based Trident weapons system. Her government won the vote by 472 to 117.

“The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it, unlike some suggestions that we could have a deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which seem to come from the Labour Party front bench,” May told the House of Commons.

With her Conservative Party solidly behind her on the issue, there was no danger of May losing Monday’s vote, which affirmed the government’s policy of building new submarines to carry Trident. The debate highlighted deep splits within the Labour opposition on the issue.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, at the head of a party which supports keeping them. His speech in response to May saw him repeatedly interrupted by those on his own side. Many said they would be voting with the government.