SDLP ‘would try to force Labour to abandon nukes’

The second nuclear bomb ever used in warfare explodes over the Japanese port and town of Nagasaki, on August 9, 1945.. (AP Photo/USAF)
The second nuclear bomb ever used in warfare explodes over the Japanese port and town of Nagasaki, on August 9, 1945.. (AP Photo/USAF)

The SDLP has said that if it has a role to play in putting Labour into power it will “aim” to force Ed Miliband to abandon the UK’s nuclear weapons programme.

Alasdair McDonnell said that his party’s long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons meant that “any future Labour Government relying on SDLP support must reflect the considerable opposition to maintaining Trident in the devolved governments”.

Undated MoD handout of the test firing of a Trident missile. Photo: MoD Crown copyright/PA.

Undated MoD handout of the test firing of a Trident missile. Photo: MoD Crown copyright/PA.

The SDLP leader said that spending £100 billion on a new Trident system was wrong: “The Tories seek to sink billions into this white elephant and in the same breath they claim that the most brutal cuts seen in decades are a necessity.

“This is an insult to the millions living under their austerity agenda and we, along with the SNP and Plaid Cymru, would aim to ensure that this is not one continued by a Labour Government.”

But the DUP’s South Belfast candidate has said that the UK must continue to hold nuclear weapons.

Jonathan Bell said that it would be foolhardy to leave the UK’s defences without nuclear weapons. The Strangford MLA and Stormont junior minister to Peter Robinson said: “One of the primary tasks for any government must be to protect and defend its citizens.

“The United Kingdom as an important member of NATO shoulders the strategic nuclear burden alongside the United States and France. The idea that strategic defence could be bartered away in a deal with the SNP should concern us all.

“The threats facing the UK and our allies are changing, but they have not diminished. Russia has demonstrated in recent times that it is very willing to use force to achieve its aims. Such countries may not pose a direct threat to the United Kingdom today, but we should not forget that the first new submarine is not due to come into service until 2028 and would be in place for a quarter of a century.”