‘US destabilizes world, not Britain scrapping nukes,’ Ken Livingstone blasts US Ambassador
US support for repressive regimes and active opposition to democracy causes global instability, not efforts to scrap nuclear weapons, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has told the US ambassador to Britain.
Livingstone, currently co-chairing Labour’s defense review, responded in withering terms to Ambassador Martin Barzun’s claims on Wednesday that getting rid of nuclear weapons quickly could “actually be a destabilizing force and we do not need more destability in the world right now.”
Livingstone did not agree with the ambassador’s comment, telling the Independent newspaper on Friday: “We’ve got this review, we’re looking at what the facts and it’s exactly that nonsense and over-the-top opinions that don’t help at all.”
“Basically it’s America’s role to destabilize the world by propping up repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia over democratically-elected governments, as they’ve done all over the third world.”
He acknowledged current global tensions, but asked for hard evidence of impending nuclear threats.
“If the American ambassador thinks Russia is about to launch a nuclear attack on Britain I’d like to see the evidence of it – we’re not going to be attacked by North Korea on the other side of the planet,” he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, like Livingstone, is a stalwart of the anti-nuclear campaign, a position he reiterated in the recent shadow cabinet reshuffle by giving unilateralist Emily Thornberry the role of shadow defense secretary in place of pro-Trident Maria Eagle.
Apart from the Thornberry appointment, Corbyn also pledged support for a mass rally by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) due to be held on February 27.
The defense review is due to be completed within the next eight to 10 weeks, Livingstone claimed on Thursday. If so, it would be in time for a parliamentary vote on Trident renewal.
A vote to rid Britain of nukes would end 25 years of pro-nuclear Labour policy, a prospect which has rattled many on the party’s right wing.
Senior MPs from the Blairite quarters of the party have previously said Trident is a “fundamental red line” they will not compromise on.