Over the weekend, the press has been reporting that the first step to replacing Trident has been announced.
This is not true.
This announcement in no way changes or contradicts the Liberal Democrat position on Trident. Liberal Democrats are opposed to the like-for-like replacement of Trident and our Defence Minister Nick Harvey is leading a review into alternatives.
As the Tories want to renew Trident, this is an area where the Coalition partners have compromised. We have ensured that the decision on whether to go ahead with the renewal of Trident will be made in 2016, after the next General Election, and we will continue to make the case for alternatives in the meantime. However, in order for that decision to be made in 2016 some preparatory work has to go ahead now, which we have agreed to.
The vast majority of the £1.1bn contract awarded to Rolls Royce to build a replacement plant at Raynesway in Derby is to upgrade out-dated facilities and produce reactor cores for the Royal Navy’s non-Trident carrying Astute class submarines. It will produce reactor cores for the Trident successor boats IF the decision to go ahead with Trident is given in 2016.
This is absolutely not pre-empting or undermining the 2016 ‘Main Gate’ decision which will lead to the renewal or otherwise of Trident. These facilities service the whole Royal Navy submarine fleet and would still need to be renewed if Trident does not go ahead.