Keir Starmer vows to put in place nuclear deterrent 'triple lock' in 'unshakeable' commitment to keep Britain safe

12 April 2024, 01:13 | Updated: 12 April 2024, 01:15

Sir Keir Starmer has said the UK&squot;s nuclear deterrent is the "bedrock" of his plan to keep Britain safe.
Sir Keir Starmer has said the UK's nuclear deterrent is the "bedrock" of his plan to keep Britain safe. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to put in place a 'triple lock' on the UK's nuclear deterrent.

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Sir Keir said Labour will "never shut its eyes to the threats our country faces", adding that the UK's nuclear deterrent is the "bedrock" of his plans to keep Britain safe.

In a major shift for the party, he said Labour is now "utterly committed to our nation's defences".

It comes as Sir Keir is set to visit the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard on Friday, where the next generation of nuclear submarines are being built.

He will be joined by shadow defence minister John Healey to speak to workers, union members and apprentices there.

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Writing in the Daily Mail, Sir Keir said: "My commitment to Nato and the UK’s nuclear deterrent – maintained on behalf of Nato allies – is unshakeable. Absolute. Total. The changed Labour Party that I lead knows that our national security always comes first."

He went on to outline his triple lock pledge, saying: "First, we will make a cast-iron commitment to build all four new Dreadnought nuclear subs here in the UK, in Barrow-in-Furness. British investment, supporting skilled British jobs and boosting British communities.

"Second, we will pledge to maintain Britain's continuous at sea nuclear deterrent. Backing our brave submariners who sacrifice a normal life to keep us safe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"Third, we'll promise to deliver all future upgrades needed. We'll ensure our nuclear deterrent is properly equipped and armed to face the challenges of the decades to come.

"Make no mistake, this is a generational, multi-decade commitment. Not only is this about defending our land and our Nato allies, it's also defending our economy – prioritising British jobs, British skills and much-needed economic growth here on our shores."

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Sir Keir also told the i that his ambition was to boost the defence budget to 2.5% of GDP, if it fits with Labour's fiscal rules.

He added: "Countless families in Barrow and across Britain have built a secure future over decades of hard work building our defences. I want that to continue for the decades to come.

"That's why we are fully backing Aukus submarines to be built in Barrow, too.

"And it's why Labour will ensure that new UK leadership within Aukus helps make this national endeavour a success for Britain."

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Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt during their visit to Barrow-in-Furness
Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt during their visit to Barrow-in-Furness. Picture: Alamy

It comes after Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt also visited BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow-in-Furness in March, having declared a "critical national endeavour" to secure the nuclear industry's future.

Addressing the "changed" Labour approach to Trident, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Sir Keir Starmer and John Healey tried twice to put Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the nation's armed forces.

"The same man who wanted to scrap our nuclear deterrent, dismantle Nato and questioned the integrity of British Intelligence community.

"Labour's shadow foreign secretary even voted repeatedly to scrap Trident. They are not the party to be trusted with our nation's defences.

"Only Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives can be trusted to protect our nuclear deterrent and stick to the plan to work with our Aukus allies to build the world's most advanced nuclear submarines which will create thousands of jobs for people across the country and build a more secure world.

"This is just another attempted distraction from the Angela Rayner scandal. If Sir Keir Starmer cannot show leadership on this issue, how can he be trusted to make decision on national security."

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