Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Boris Johnson's First PM Task Is To Decide What To Do If Britain Is Obliterated By A Nuclear Strike
23 July 2019, 16:51
Imagine the scenario - Britain has been wiped out by a surprise nuclear attack. The PM's instructions about what action to take will be contained in "the letters of last resort" - which Boris Johnson will write on Wednesday.
Like starting any new job, a few administrative tasks will have to be completed before Boris Johnson can assume his role as PM.
After having visited the Queen, made his first speech at PM, and met the Downing Street staff, Boris Johnson will have to write "the letters of last resort" to Britain's nuclear submarine chiefs.
These letters are instructions, telling the nuclear submarine chiefs what action they should take in the event that the country is obliterated by a nuclear strike.
The letters are sealed with the hope that they will never be opened. The previous instructions (Theresa May's) will be destroyed, nobody having read their contents.
Every Prime Minister is known to have feared writing the daunting "letters of last resort."
John Major described writing the letter as "one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do".
Tony Blair reportedly "turned white" when he was told he had to write the letters.
Boris Johnson will have to listen to a security briefing from the Chief of Defence Staff before writing his letters.
He will also have to nominate "nuclear deputies" - two other cabinet members to charge of the codes in an emergency if the premier is unwell or unable to be reached.
The four options for the incoming Prime Minister to tell the commanders in the event of a nuclear attack are:
1) Retaliate against the nuclear attack
2) Do not retaliate
3) Use your own judgment
4) Go under the command of an allied power such as the USA
After the dreaded "letters of last resort" are written, Mr Johnson will be able to start forming a new Cabinet.