Corbyn suffers first “humiliating” blow as Labour rejects his anti-nuclear policy
Britain’s new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suffered his first humiliating defeat after his party on Sunday rejected his bid to overhaul the country’s nuclear deterrent.
Corbyn had earlier in the day emphasized that Britain should get rid of its “weapon of mass destruction” and scrap what is known in the country as the Trident programme.
He wanted to push through a motion calling for the Labour to abandon its commitment to the programme.
But delegates refused to even consider what the media are already describing as a “controversial proposal” to abandon Trident.
This followed fierce opposition from Labour-supporting trade unions that said they would vote to keep nuclear weapons and protect thousands of defense jobs.
Indications are also growing that Corbyn could face a party revolt if he insists on his positions to oppose atomic weapons for Britain.
Lord Falconer, the shadow justice secretary, has threatened to resign if the party opposes Trident renewal. He told the Sunday Telegraph: “As far as Trident is concerned, it is really important to me. It would give rise to me having considerable difficulties [remaining in the shadow cabinet] if we didn’t accept it.”
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and deputy leader Tom Watson are among senior figures backing Trident renewal.
More than a dozen members of the shadow cabinet are said to be ready to quit if the Labour leader forces them to back his position.
In response, Corbyn has admitted that the party will be split on the issue. ‘We are going to come to an accommodation of some sort. It may end up being a difference of opinion,’ he told the BBC in an exclusive interview.
“Is it so disastrous that politics has two opinions?,” he added.
Britain has been a nuclear power since the 1950s, and both Labour and Conservative governments have consistently supported atomic weapons. Since the 1990s, Britain’s nuclear deterrent has consisted of four Royal Navy submarines armed with Trident missiles.
News that Trident would be debated at the conference for the first time in many years had been hailed as a victory by anti-nuclear activists – but had caused despair for Labour centrists, who maintained that the case would lead to electoral oblivion for the party.