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Lib Dems' Trident review considers nuclear alternatives

Britain can maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without a like-for-like replacement of its Trident submarine fleet, a review by the Liberal Democrats has concluded.

The review, led by Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, said there are alternatives to the UK's current nuclear stance which requires at least one nuclear-armed submarine always to be at a sea.

However, it accepts that cutting the size of the current four-vessel fleet would not offer the same degree of resilience as the current continuous-at-sea deterrent and would not guarantee "a prompt response in all circumstances".

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Alexander: Britain's security will not be compromised

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister Danny Alexander said the Liberal Democrats' review of alternatives to Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent will not "compromise national security".

In a move which could put his party at odds with its Conservative coalition partners, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury admitted Britain faces a "big decision in 2016" over alternatives to the current weapon system.

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Lord Ashdown dismisses Hammond's Trident criticism

Lord Ashdown has dismissed Defence Secretary Philip Hammond's criticism of downgrading Trident in light of a new review unveiling alternatives to the nuclear deterrent.

The former Liberal Democrat leader wrote on Twitter:

He added that reducing the size of the fleet would not mean a "part-time" deterrent:

  1. National

Defence Secretary: Trident downgrade a 'huge gamble'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond with Chief of the General Staff Sir Peter Wall in a recent visit to Essex. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Downgrading the UK's nuclear deterrent would be a "huge gamble with Britain's security", Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has declared as he rejected proposals for a "part-time" Trident force ahead of the publication of a Liberal Democrat review of the weapons system.

Mr Hammond insisted that a like-for-like replacement of all four nuclear-armed submarines when they leave service is the only way to maintain a continuous state of readiness to launch a strike.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Danny Alexander's Trident Alternatives Review, which will be published today, is expected to include an array of options short of full replacement.

But Mr Hammond insisted in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme that any financial savings from reducing the fleet would be "trivial".

"We have had for 45 years now a continuous-at-sea deterrent posture which has served this country very well and we do not believe that with nuclear threats.

"If anything, proliferating, with more countries seeking to get nuclear weapons, this is the time to downgrade, certainly not to go to a part-time deterrent."

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Barrow house blown apart by suspected gas explosion

The house was badly damaged in the explosion Credit: Cumbria Council

An elderly woman has escaped with minor injuries, after a suspected gas explosion at her home in Barrow.

The blast happened at 7.56am. Firefighters rushed to the scene to find the rear of the building badly damaged.

Engineers are assessing the structure. Police have sealed off Ainslie Street.

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