Advertisement

Labour hardens defence policy - for now

Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, one of the UK's four nuclear warhead-carrying submarines Credit: PA

It was notable that both the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Defence Secretary stuck by Labour Party Policy on Trident today.

Neither Emily Thornberry nor Clive Lewis want to renew Britain's nuclear deterrent, neither does Jeremy Corbyn. But Party Policy is to pursue the path of mulitlateralism - all nations disarming, not just Britain alone and both of them stood by that today despite their personal reservations.

Clive Lewis also said Labour would commit to going to the aid of a NATO ally if they are attacked and the NATO benchmark of spending 2% of GDP on defence. Jeremy Corbyn has sounded distinctly lukewarm on these over the summer.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry sticking to Labour Party Policy on Trident Credit: PA

But shortly after her speech Emily Thornberry told me the unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons was still up for grabs as the Party was still reviewing its defence policy. And The Huffington Post reported that Mr Lewis's speech was altered to leave the door open to a change of policy on Trident.

The Labour Leader has taken a number of 'brave' positions on defence; opposing Trident, calling into question NATO's mutual defence pact, backing investigations of British troops and questioning MI6 funding. His plans for a new 'Minister for Peace' have raised both eyebrows and comparisons with George Orwell's ironic 'Ministry of Peace'.

All of this will be wrapped up with questions about his patriotism - remember when he failed to sing the national anthem? - and exploited ruthlessly by the Conservatives come the General Election. So Labour might need this hardening of policy. If it sticks.