British lawmakers vote to renew Trident nuclear program

The UK Parliament has overwhelmingly voted in favor of renewing Trident, the aging Scotland-based fleet of four nuclear submarines, despite strong opposition from Labour and the Scottish National Party.

Lawmakers backed Trident’s renewal 472 votes to the 117 who voted against maintaining the costly nuclear deterrent.

READ MORE: What’s at stake as British Parliament votes on the future of Trident nuclear weapons?

Parliament held a heated debate on the issue Monday afternoon, during which Scottish National party MPs and Labour leader Jerermy Corbyn spoke out against Trident’s renewal.

British PM Theresa May showed strong support for the deterrent program, confirming that if necessary she would approve a nuclear strike resulting in the mass loss of lives. May responded with a firm “yes” after SNP’s George Kerevan asked if she was “personally prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that can kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children?”

“I have to say to the honorable gentleman, 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 frontbench.”

“The idea that someone can say ‘yes, I’m prepared to do that strikes me as worrying, really,” vice chair of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND Cymru) Brian Jones told RT. The use of the nuclear trident submarine “which carries more exclusive power than was used in the entire Second World War” might affect the whole planet and may result in the killing of millions if not billions of people, he warned.

May’s stance was met by strong criticism from the opposition who said there was no need for a deterrent that is powerful enough to kill thousands of people.

“What is the threat we are facing that a million people’s deaths would actually deter?” Corbyn said adding that he “would not take a decision that kills millions of innocent people.” May, however, said that putting aside the deterrent would be a “dereliction of duty” for Britain.

However, the Labour party was rather divided on the issue. Around 60 percent of its MPs did not support leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opinion and voted in favor of the nuclear program.

Meanwhile 58 of the Parliament’s 59 Scottish MPs opposed Trident renewal, calling nuclear weapons “immoral”. The government “must respect Scotland's clear decision against Trident renewal and remove these nuclear weapons of mass destruction from the Clyde,” SNP said after the vote.

When pushing for the approval of Trident, May cited Russia’s presence, calling it one of the top threats for the UK. Earlier on Monday, the security think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) issued a report which said that Russia is “the primary source of potential nuclear risk to the UK, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.”

The Trident program includes the potential replacement of the four submarines stationed at Faslane naval base on the west coast of Scotland. The submarines carry up to eight missiles and can be fitted with up to 40 warheads. The approximate cost for their replacement is said to be £31bn ($41 billion).