That thing belongs in a museum. Photo: Getty Images
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Trident's an outdated waste. Even the military say so

A new report shows how antiquated our nuclear deterrent is.

The way David Cameron uses his backing for Trident replacement to appear “tough on defence”, one would be forgiven for thinking that the military is four-square behind the Conservatives.

But a new report shows that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact – across the armed forces – there are grave concerns that Britain’s nuclear weapons system neither addresses the real security threats facing Britain, nor represents value for money.

In a serious political intervention, Major General Patrick Cordingley, who led British forces in the first Gulf War, said:

‘Strategic nuclear weapons have no military use. It would seem the government wishes to replace Trident simply to remain a nuclear power alongside the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council. This is misguided and flies in the face of public opinion; we have more to offer than nuclear bombs.’

The report – British military attitudes to nuclear weapons and disarmament – by the Nuclear Information Service and the Nuclear Education Trust – is a ground-breaking study into military thinking on nuclear weapons. And it is startling to find that the military establishment is far from unanimous on the issue of Trident replacement.

Some participants in the study, commenting on the exorbitant cost of Trident replacement, stated that “no circumstances justify the large amounts of money required by [Trident] and this money would be better spent elsewhere.”

Many participants in the survey were also unclear about many aspects of the UK’s nuclear weapons, including their costs, purpose and credibility.

With a final decision on Trident replacement due in 2016 – at a price tag of £100 billion – now is the time for a hard-headed look at the strategic utility of nuclear weapons.

We already knew that the Government’s own National Security Strategy in 2010 downgraded the threat of state-on-state nuclear attack.

We already knew that former Defence Secretaries across the political spectrum from Michael Portillo to Des Browne have concluded that Trident is a waste of money.

Now we know that many in the military think Trident is a “political” tool and little more – that many in the armed forces would rather see the money spent on equipment which could actually be used: especially at a time when the military has been faced with spending cuts.

Many across the UK think Trident should be scrapped. Whether that is for moral, legal, economic or strategic reasons – the Government cannot afford to ignore public opinion from all quarters.

The time has come to scrap the UK’s nuclear weapons once and for all – and to ignore the opinion of both those who have served in the military and the British public would be an enormous folly.

Kate Hudson is the head of CND. British military attitudes to nuclear weapons and disarmament is released later today.

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Theresa May missed an easy opportunity on EU citizens' rights

If the UK had made a big, open and generous offer, the diplomatic picture would be very different.

It's been seven hours and 365 days...and nothing compares to EU, at least as far as negotiations go.

First David Davis abandoned "the row of the summer" by agreeing to the EU's preferred negotiating timetable. Has Theresa May done the same in guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living here indefinitely?

Well, sort of. Although the PM has said that there have to be reciprocal arrangements for British citizens abroad, the difficulty is that because we don't have ID cards and most of our public services are paid for not out of an insurance system but out of general taxation, the issues around guaranteeing access to health, education, social security and residence are easier.

Our ability to enforce a "cut-off date" for new migrants from the European Union is also illusory, unless the government thinks it has the support in parliament and the logistical ability to roll out an ID card system by March 2019. (It doesn't.)

If you want to understand how badly the PM has managed Britain's Brexit negotiations, then the rights of the three million EU nationals living in Britain is the best place to start. The overwhelming support in the country at large for guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, coupled with the deep unease among Conservative MPs about not doing so, meant that it was never a plausible bargaining chip. (That's before you remember that the bulk of the British diaspora in Europe lives in countries with small numbers of EU citizens living in the UK. You can't secure a good deal from Spain by upsetting the Polish government.) It just made three million people, their friends and their families nervous for a year and irritated our European partners, that's all.

If the United Kingdom had made a big, open and generous offer on citizens' rights a year ago, as Vote Leave recommended in the referendum, the diplomatic picture would be very different. (It would be better still if, again, as Vote Leave argued, we hadn't triggered Article 50, an exit mechanism designed to punish an emergent dictatorship that puts all the leverage on the EU27's side.)

As it happens, May's unforced errors in negotiations, the worsening economic picture and the tricky balancing act in the House of Commons means that Remainers can hope both for a softer exit and that they might yet convince voters that nothing compares to EU after all. (That a YouGov poll shows the number of people willing to accept EU rules in order to keep the economy going stretching to 58 per cent will only further embolden the soft Brexiteers.)

For Brexiteers, that means that if Brexit doesn't go well, they have a readymade scapegoat in the government. It means Remainers can credibly hope for a soft Brexit – or no Brexit at all. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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